The History of the American Flag
The flag of the United States represents many things that current citizens may never be aware of during their lifetime. The history of our flag is remarkable as that of the America Republic. The origin of the flag up until this day has gone through many battles, changes, and survived some of our most devastating moments too still stand representing a symbol of sacrifice in service, loss, and determination after the World Trade towers in September 11, 2001, as well as all the victories and defeats prior too.
For approximately 200 years, the American flag has been the symbol of our nation’s unity. The flag is a source of pride and inspiration for millions of citizens. Our American flag has been a prominent icon in our national history inspiring the national anthem, pledge of allegiance, and Star Spangled Banner.
The Origin of the First American flag is found to be unknown to some, but, there are claims of the first American Flag with Stars and stripes to be sewn by Betsy Ross in Philadelphia, New Jersey in 1776.
There are also historians, who decline any substantiating evidence of this claim and mark the designer and maker of the first American flag to be unknown. Otherwise, “on June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed an act establishing an official flag for the new nation.“The resolution stated: “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation. (“Flag Timeline” 1999-2018) Francis Hopkins, naval flag designer was given the credit in 1977 for being the designer, he was a Chairman on the Continental Navy Board’s Middle Department, which also was one of the selected who signed the Declaration of independence in 1977 as the flag was established.
The American Flag was originally designed with 13 stars in a circle with 13 stripes; 7 red stripes and 6 white stripes alternating. The stars originally represented the colonies. The stars similar to other flags were designed to separate the American flag from Europe’s flag with multiple pointed stars and the confederate flag with 6 pointed stars. The original stars on the 1977 flag were designed with 5 points in white in a field of blue. The blue is currently referred to as the Union. The original 13 starts in a circle represented “The Thirteen Colonies that were a group of British colonies on the east coast o North America founded in the 17th and 18th centuries that declared independence in 1776 and formed the United States of America.” (“The history of the American Flag”2005-2018)
In 1795, additional colonies (Vermont & Kentucky) joined the union; the flag was redesigned to 13 stars and 15 stripes from 1795 until 1818. In 1818, the flag returned to 13 stripes and added 5 more colonies being represented by the stars. The American flag has changed 27 times from its original design, now including 50 stars and 13 strips.
Each color of the flag also represents a meaning written in the book “Our Flag” published in 1989 by the House of Representatives. The colors of the pales (the vertical stripes) are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valour, and Blue, the color of the Chief (the broad band above the stripes) signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice. The star is a symbol of the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial; the stripe is symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun. (“What do the colors of the Flag mean?” 2005)
Rules of the Flag
Through the years in my career I’ve learned many rules caring, flying, representing the American flag. I wish this was something taught more to our youth. It seems we all bleed the red, white, and blue representing the independence, losses, and great things we have in America, then we feel this deep sense of loyalty when we hear the Star Spangled Banner be sung across the stadium. But, does every heart know the interesting history of the stars and stripes? Would they know the rules of their own American Flag and the things it represents?
First thing to know is the Flag code in the United States Code, Chapter 1 Title 4. Second, taking pride in our flag represents the all people who lost their lives the last 200 years representing the 50 stars/states in the union in which we live.
Rules of the flag are as follows:
- The Flag shall never be flown with the Union down unless someone is signaling dire in distress.
- The Flag will be flown with 13 stripes red and white alternating with 50 white stripes in a field of blue.
- On the admission of any new union; one star shall be added to the existing 50 stars.
- While performing the Pledge: “The manner of delivery should be rendered by standing to attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men should remove any non-religious headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and the render the military salute.”
- The flag shall be flown from sunrise to sunset on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However for a patriotic event the flag may be flown for 24 hours a day with a light on it.
- The flag shall be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
- The flag should not be displayed on days the weather is inclement, except when an all weather flag is displayed.
- The flag shall be displayed all days, especially on: New Years Day, Inauguration Day, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday, Washington’s Birthday, Lincoln’s Birthday, Easter Sunday, Mother’s Day, Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Father Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Constitution day, Columbus Day, Navy Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day.
- The flag should be displayed on or near the administration of any public building.
- The flag should be display on or near the every polling place on election.
- The flag shall be flown near every school day on or near each school.
- Anytime the flag is flown with another flag; the American flag shall be flown from the highest point if on the same halyard. No person shall display the flag of the United Nations or any other national or international flag equal, above, or in a position of superior prominence or honor to, or in place of, the flag of the United States at any place within the United States or any Territory or possession thereof.
- The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of States or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs.
- The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. On Memorial Day the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff.
- The flag is used to cover a casket, it should be so placed that the union is at the head and over the left shoulder. The flag should not be lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground.
- When the flag is used to cover a casket, it should be so placed that the union is at the head and over the left shoulder. The flag should not be lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground.
- No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing.
- The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
- The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.
- Modification of rules and customs by president; any rule or custom pertaining to the display of the flag of the United States of America, set forth herein, may be altered, modified, or repealed, or additional rules with respect thereto may be prescribed, by the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, whenever he deems it to be appropriate or desirable; and any such alteration or additional rule shall be set forth in a proclamation.(“Flag Code,” 2018)
Etiquette of the Flag
The etiquette of the flag refers to the traditions, manner, and respect we show towards the way we comply with Flag Code and represent our flag. For example, you may by exception fly your flag at night being it is well illuminated by light. But, according to the flag Code and tradition, lowering the old glory at night is showing the upmost respect. Taking care of the little things boils down to taking pride in your work and being to all those who served in the last 200 years to protect it. Putting in effort in correcting the way a flag should not be displayed when you see one is when you are representing this country with pride.
The flag is not just red, white, and blue with stars and stripes. The American Flag represents the devoted and hardworking men and women, for example the 343 firefighters of NYFD that were lost on September 11, 2001 during the World trade Towers. Those were the men and women who went in to help, when everyone was running the other way. The men and women of our current military across seas around the world away from their families risking their lives to protect us from another World Trade Towers incident. Every American citizen who respects the Flag Code is part of the United States American Flag.
Each piece of the American flag has a specific meaning of honor behind it that represents each and every one of the men and women lost, retired, active-duty, first responders, and future citizens of this republic. So, that needs to be considered every time someone looks, touch’s, folds, carriers, hoists, and lowers the American Flag. The etiquette in how we handle our flag in front of others and when no one is looking, this is the mark we leave behind on how were present our country, profession, and self. We shall carry, raise, lower, and fly our flag with the upmost pride and respect at all times.