7 Ways to Display Your American Flag

Image 1The American flag is not just a piece of material; it is a symbol of your country. As such, it should be treated with respect and care. Most people are familiar with the traditional flying of the flag from a flagpole at government buildings, schools, etc., and many others show their national pride by flying the flag from their residence. Beyond these standard displays, there are many other ways to display your flag. Most of them are such a part of our life that we don’t notice them anymore, but if they were gone it would surely leave a giant hole in the fabric of our country.

Let’s look at seven ways to display the American flag.

Stationary Flagpole

If you have a stationary flagpole, your American flag can be flown proudly above your business or residence. If there are other flags that are also flown, the American flag is to be flown above them at the highest level, and no other flag is to be larger than the American flag. When flags are flown outdoors, they should be made of a material that can withstand the winds, since flying a tattered flag is not acceptable.

Flags should not be flown in inclement weather unless they were designed for this purpose. For example, AmericanFlags.com offers outdoor flags constructed from 100% 2-ply, spun woven polyester that is resistant to high winds, rain, and snow with bright, fade-resistant colors. These flags meet U.S. government and military specifications.

American flags are not to be flown at night unless they are illuminated.

Removable Flagpole

Many homes and businesses have a flag that is attached to a removable pole that can be placed attached to the home or business. These flags should be flown in such a way that they will not touch the ground or be caught up in foliage, branches, or other obstacles, as the American flag must always be able to fly freely. If these flags are to be flown at night, ensure they are illuminated.

Should you desire your flag to fly in inclement weather, ensure that it is constructed of the same superior material as those flown on a stationary pole. If your flag will be taken down during these times, you might consider a flag of durable nylon or even a Bulldog Cotton American flag.

AmericanFlags.com makes flying the flag easy and affordable with complete residential flag sets in both lighted and unlighted varieties.

Stick Flags

When you don’t have the option to fly a flag from your own post, or simply want to add to the experience, stick flags are a great alternative. These flags are smaller but just as powerful in their message. Consider putting them in a planter box or lining the walkway. AmericanFlags.com even has a stick flag with a solar-operated light on the top.

Grave Markers

There is no greater way to honor the memory of those who have fought and died so bravely for our country than to remember them with the flag they served under.

Indoor Flagpole

Whether it is for a ceremony or a permanent display, an indoor flagpole is the way to go. The flag should always be displayed to the right of a stage or speaking area – to the audience’s left. Because so many walkway ceilings are low, it is important to carefully secure the flag and carry the pole properly instead of tilting the pole and dragging the flag.

Cars

Flying the American flag on your car is a way to show your patriotism wherever you go. Car flags are designed to be flown in and around town. Their life will be shortened if used at high speeds or in inclement weather. Car dealers will want to display these flags on all of their models during patriotic holidays.

Hands

During patriotic holidays, every hand should have a flag in it. Be sure to have enough flags for each member of your family. Waving the flag is a great way to teach your children about the importance of patriotism. Get them for your classes at school, for your youth at church, or for the neighborhood.

There are so many ways to recognize your country by proudly displaying the American flag. Not only does it show patriotism, but it is a great way to say thank you to the men and women who have served their country with honor and distinction. Knowing that it is so important to do so, AmericanFlags.com has made it possible to purchase the style and size you require at a price that you can afford.

The Controversial Green Mountain Boys

 Green Mountain Boys Flag

The American Revolution was a turbulent time for a new nation on the verge of being born. Settlers who had come here to escape the oppression of England’s royal rule banded together to fight for freedom, to establish a new republic in which all men are created equal. To unite the people, creating a feeling of belonging, pride, and patriotism, flags were flown for various purposes and over clusters of militia.

Who Were the Green Mountain Boys

One such militia consisted of the Green Mountain Boys, a group of settlers and land speculators who controlled the area called the New Hampshire Grants, located between the Connecticut River and Lake Champlain, what we know today as Vermont. Technically, they were under the control of New York, a decision made by the British; however, no town (save Brattleboro) acknowledged the laws imposed by the Brits.

Though the Green Mountain Boys did not recognize the laws of the British, they did support the call to arms at the start of the American Revolution. Led by Ethan Allen, his brother Ira Allen, and their cousin Seth Warner, the Green Mountain Boys had great success in the revolutionary war. Being hardened settlers, with a strong desire for freedom to live as they please, these men rallied around their standard, flying it at every conquest.

Their Successes During the War

While their victories may have been small, they were strategic wins in the war. At the beginning of the conflict, Allen and his men trekked north and took Ticonderoga, a small British garrison. After that, they headed down to Boston to defeat the British siege on the city. By taking the fort in the north, they cut off supplies and communications coming through Canada, as well as an attack from the redcoats stationed at the fort. Freeing the city of Boston ended the stand-off with the British.

The Green Mountain Boys contributed during the Battle of Bennington and the Battle of Hubbardton, and they participated in the invasion of Quebec.

Why So Controversial?

This militia was formed to stop New York from attempting to control their land, which they had rightfully settled years before New Hampshire lost its claim on it. Created in the 1760s, the Green Mountain Boys’ goal was to stop land surveyors, and, according to www.vermonthistory.org, they would evict people from their home and land if they held a grant from the state of New York. They may have been lawless and harsh, but they were a necessary force at the time.

Aside from their apparently lawless ways, governing the New Hampshire Grant area as their own republic, they were also said to be a “bigger deal” than they actually were. For example, in the taking of Fort Ticonderoga, they fought in tandem with another group led by Benedict Arnold. They downplayed the Arnold’s participation—to the point they “lost” his memoir.

Their Legacy

The Green Mountain Boys disbanded in 1777 when Vermont declared its independence from Britain and became a republic for fourteen years before becoming the 14th state admitted into the union. The remnants of the Green Mountain Boys became the Continental Rangers, led by Seth Warner. Ethan Allen had left the militia to join the Northern Army of New York with a rank of Lieutenant Colonel under Philip Schuyler. During the War of 1812, the Civil War, and the Spanish American War, the Green Mountain Boys mustered to fight again.

Their flag is a green field with a blue canton in the upper left corner containing 13 stars in a natural pattern. The green is representative of the area they lived, the Green Mountains. The thirteen stars symbolized the original thirteen colonies of the United States. It is potentially the most well-known flag of the Revolutionary War.

Today, this flag is still flown to symbolize the Vermont National Guard. This standard and many others can be found at AmericanFlags.com, where you will only find flags made in America by Americans. Fly your colors with pride!

Moon’s Glory

American Flag on the Moon

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted an American flag on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission. But where did it come from? There are a few theories, but ultimately no one seems to know for certain.

Dolores Black, a former seamstress for a flag company in Milwaukee, thinks she may have sewn it. She stated during an interview that she had sewn her name inside the webbing that would have been used to attach the flag to a pole. Unfortunately, that webbing and the manufacturer’s labels had to be removed in order to affix the flag to its aluminum pole, so even were someone to launch a multi-billion dollar operation to inspect it, there is no way to verify her assertion.

According to NASA itself, the flag was purchased off-the-shelf, with no special modifications until they attached it to the custom-made, gold-anodized aluminum pole used to support it. This flagpole featured a telescopic, hinged pole designed to hold the flag unfurled on the airless moon. The telescopic portion was apparently difficult to engage while the astronauts were wearing their spacesuits, so the flag was displayed slightly curled, giving the illusion that it was waving briskly in an absent wind.

Of course, the flag is no longer standing; Buzz Aldrin noticed it was knocked over by the rocket exhaust lifting the Eagle’s ascent module from the moon. Given that the lack of atmosphere means the sun’s ultraviolet rays are unimpeded, the flag is now undoubtedly bleached completely white. The store-shelf nylon it was made from would have disintegrated over the intervening years.

NASA’s determination to not see the space program used as an advertising gimmick means that no one now knows for certain whether the flag was purchased from a Sears store or from a government catalogue. Those records may simply not exist anymore. This makes it impossible to determine exactly where the original fabric came from, although that has not stopped at least two North Carolina towns from claiming they produced it. Burlington Mills in Rhodhiss was a source for the fabric used in the spacesuits, so there may be some legitimacy to their claim.

However, this only helps confuse the issue. Was the flag commissioned from a specialty fabric weaver in North Carolina, commissioned from a specialty flag retailer in Wisconsin, or purchased from a Sears store? Various parties have tried to determine the true origin, only to come upon the same tangle of conflicting stories we see above. Without some memo or directive coming to light these many years later, there seems to be no definitive answer.

The very act of placing a flag on the moon in the first place was not without controversy. Various treaties and international agreements stipulated that outer space was not to be subject to sovereignty or colonization, and planting an American flag could be interpreted as violating those agreements. In so doing, NASA specified that the flag was being raised as a symbol of pride and triumph, not to serve as a declaration of American ownership of the moon. Perhaps tellingly, the action was not protested by any governmental body in this or any of the following Apollo missions.

Symbolic and dramatic, the planting of the flag was the most-remembered portion of the extra-vehicular activities executed by the astronauts. But that flag was not the only one to make the trip. Smaller flags—one for each state and one for each member of the United Nations—were carried to the moon within the lunar module and brought back for presentation to governors and heads of state.

Technical considerations for such a small but powerful portion of the mission were many and varied. Once the decision to include a flag had been made late in the planning process, it had to be determined how best to transport it. There was so little room in the Lunar Landing Module that the flag wound up being fastened to the exit ladder. This necessitated designing and building a heatproof container for it, which was installed on the day of launch.

The astronauts had previously, along with all their other training, undergone practice runs of detaching the container, removing the flag, planting the flagpole, and erecting the flag itself. As mentioned, there was some trouble extending the horizontal portion of the pole, but the effect was so attractive that later missions deliberately left the extension partially retracted to duplicate it.

The whole assembly weighed less than ten pounds, and the entire process took less than ten minutes, but the payoff was tremendous. Regardless of from where the flag came, the whole world cheered at its placement. AmericanFlags.com is looking forward to sourcing flags for Mars and beyond, and this time we’ll know who made them.

 

Honor and Glory: The Standard Bearer

Battle Flag

Flags have long delineated who we are as individuals, what groups we belong to, and what we want to claim as our own. The brilliant colors and strange menageries found on banners are their own language, for flags were meant for communication before literacy was common. In the less civilized days of our past, the designs on flags gave travelers, soldiers, and common folk basic information about the areas they were living in or traveling through.

At the very apex of these communications, flags were the ones used in battle. Any given army or unit would be identified by their ensign from afar, and the most vital (and dangerous) job on the field was the standard bearer. An unusual position of honor, the person chosen to carry the flag for his army had to be an extraordinary one, for he was the primary target for all as soon as he set foot in battle.

Quick Communication: A Bright Idea

Before the modern invention of the radio, communication at a distance—whether during war or peace—was a difficult prospect. Written messages and couriers were somewhat effective, but hazardously slow and hard to deliver, especially during pitched battle. Accurate positioning of appropriate forces was absolutely essential—so each unit would have a designated soldier who carried a token of identification on a long pole. These manifested in several ways, with animals being the most popular icons.

The Aquila: A Spirit of Battle

Of particular importance for the Romans was the Aquila, the bronze eagle carried to represent the spirit of the entire army. A general, from a small distance, could see the movements of his forces by their ensigns and correct them swiftly. In return, any given soldier could find his general by seeking the Aquila. Being chosen to carry the Aquila was one of the highest honors that could be bestowed upon a soldier: Not only was that eagle the rallying point, it was the avatar of the army’s fighting spirit.

To the Romans, the Aquila was a god. To carry and defend that spirit required a fighter of the highest ability, possessed of independent intelligence and a fanatical devotion to Rome itself. Concurrently, the standard bearer was usually accompanied by the general himself and an elite group of soldiers: the color guard. While still being an active part of the fighting force, this particular unit was devoted to the preservation of their standard. The loss of that symbol, that god, was a devastating blow for two reasons.

First, it meant that they had lost their deity and their honor. Second, and deadly from a tactical point of view, the regular army would have no visual signal to indicate central command. An army without a standard was often an army without a general, and, therefore, must be losing badly. Troops would often break and run without the assurance of an intact chain of command.

The Hundred Years War

Though the Roman Empire eventually fell, the sanctity of one’s standard and the honor of being flag-bearer continued down through the ages. In particular, as the ideals of chivalry spread through Western Europe, the honor of carrying your country’s emblem redoubled in importance. With the concept of knighthood came the secondary display of one’s own colors, or “device.” This was especially noteworthy during the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) between England and France. Rich ransoms could be acquired by capturing the right people. A captured knight was a valuable commodity, and the money his King would pay for his freedom not inconsiderable.

All you had to do was read the correct flags and capture soldiers carrying their easily identifiable shields. This was a common practice, for one or two ransoms could provide a gentlemanly retirement. Of particular interest on any given field of battle, then, was any monarch present, readily identified by his own personal standard.

The knight charged with the duty of carrying the king’s banner was one of proven skill and bravery, for once again the banner made him a target. As the model of the perfect knight, Sir Geoffroi de Charny of France may be the most iconic standard bearer in all of history. A noteworthy statesman and brilliant fighter, de Charny was charged to carry the Oriflamme—the standard of the French monarchy.  It was considered to be the embodiment of their military greatness, much as the Aquila was centuries before.

At the Battle of Poitiers (though at almost sixty years of age), the valiant de Charny carried the Oriflamme and fought at the side of the king himself. Against overwhelming odds (five Englishmen to every one Frenchman) de Charney’s courage never faltered. This “true and perfect knight” died at the hands of the English, but even as he perished he refused to relinquish the Oriflamme. Such was the power of these symbols and the collective belief accumulated with their presence. The French suffered a devastating defeat, but the legend and the impact of Geoffroi de Charny’s actions have remained impressive through the annals of history.

The Civil War

Over four hundred years later, the intertwined importance of the flag and the standard-bearer still carried great weight. Whereas before capture and ransom were an essential part of war, the American Civil War unfolded new depths of terror upon the battlefield. Unlike the almost ceremonial confrontations of Europe, this conflict was known for being horrifically bloody.

The invention of gunpowder and the common usage of rifles added incalculable risk to those chosen to carry the flag. Not only were the standard bearers still marked targets, they were now often the only visible targets in fields clouded with gunsmoke. Both the North and the South had conventions for the color guard—nine men total—but the peril was equal for both sides.

The army’s flag and flag bearer were always the prime targets for the densest and most violent fighting. Again, capturing the enemy’s flag was considered an act of the sheerest bravery, and the men responsible would be honored for their courage. No unit surrenders their standard easily, and the price men paid on both sides of the battle was incalculably steep.

Where Did the Battle Flags Go?

It is fairly accurate to say that very few elements of combat have stayed consistent since Roman times. The advent of modern warfare tactics, remote communication, flight, and motorized vehicles all contribute to a very different approach to warfare.

A flag is no longer strictly necessary. Often, in missions of liberation, an openly displayed flag would be viewed as an act of occupation and not one of rescue. Unit flags are still kept and treasured, but are only flown in the most tactful ways possible. Much of today’s warfare depends on swiftness and stealth, both of which would be greatly hampered by a gigantic flag. In lieu of this, members of the American army still carry the Stars and Stripes on their sleeves in muted colors. You can find almost any flag you may want to fly at AmericanFlags.com, where the standards are made in America, by Americans.

It is interesting to note, however, that the stars always face forward, signifying that each soldier is bearing the flag into battle. Many rituals still exist today that honor our flags and what they represent—notably at dawn and dusk to raise or lower the flag. Another remnant exists in the manifestation of color guards as part of marching bands and parades.

While no longer representing the flower of chivalry, members of today’s color guards still carry out important ceremonial functions. It is a rather pleasant change from the standard bearer’s violent history that the flag carrier no longer has to fear violent challenge and death for proudly carrying their banners.

Nancy Reagan: Actress, First Lady, and Honorable Wife

Nancy ReaganThe wife of the President of the United States of America is known as the First Lady. Many notable women have contributed to our great nation just as much as their husbands. Nancy Reagan, who recently passed away on March 6, 2016, is one of the top first ladies of the 20th century. She is known for being the wife of President Ronald Reagan, for her acting credits, and for her passion about discouraging drug use by youth.

She was born in New York City to actress Edith Luckett and salesman Kenneth Robbins. Anne Frances “Nancy” Robbins entered the world on July 6, 1921. Shortly after birth, her parents separated, so Nancy went to live with her aunt and uncle in Maryland. Her mother pursued her acting career and later married Chicago neurosurgeon Loyal Davis when Nancy was about eight years old. Because of this marriage, Nancy had a wealthy and prominent upbringing. She attended the Girls’ Latin School in Chicago, a private institution. Afterward, she graduated from Smith College in Massachusetts, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in drama in 1943.

Her Acting Career

After graduation, Nancy began a career as a sales clerk while also working as a nurse’s aide. However, her true vision was to become an actress like her mother. She eventually was able to enter the industry thanks to her mother’s connections. Her first role was in “Ramshackle Inn,” a touring production. In 1946, at the tender age of 23, Nancy debuted on Broadway in “Lute Song” with Yul Brynner and Mary Martin. The musical was a hit.

As she rose to fame, Nancy signed a seven-year contract with MGM Studios of Hollywood. She appeared as a supporting actress in some films, including “The Doctor and the Girl” and “East Side, West Side” in 1949.

In 1950, Nancy’s name made a “communist sympathizers” list in a magazine. She was told to get help from the Screen Actors Guild president, who just happened to be Ronald Reagan. The future president of the United States reassured her that her career was safe, and the two began dating. On March 4, 1952, the two wed at the Little Brown Church in San Fernando Valley.

In 1957, Nancy and Ronald Reagan starred in “Hellcats in the Navy.” By the end of the decade, she pursued another career: wife and mother. Nancy and Ronald had custody of his two children, Maureen and Michael, from a previous marriage to Jane Wyman. Later, the two had children together: a daughter named Patti and a son named Ron.

The Road to the Presidency

While focusing on family life, Nancy began to strategically foster relations with prominent businessmen of Southern California. It was at this time that Ronald Reagan began his road to the presidency. In 1966, he was elected governor of California. Nancy was already acting as a first lady; she used her political position to help Vietnam veterans, as well as lead a Foster Grandparents program. The Foster Grandparents program was designed to match senior citizens with special-needs children. Nancy Reagan was honorably named Los Angeles Times Woman of the Year in 1968. For her youth and fashion sense, she was compared to former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

Ronald Reagan’s election for the president of the United States began in 1980. Nancy famously refurbished rooms of the White House. More importantly, she coined the phrase “Just Say No” in 1982. Her anti-drug campaign allowed her to tour the nation to raise awareness for rehabilitation centers. Three years later, Nancy hosted an international conference on youth drug abuse with 17 first ladies from countries around the world.

Ronald Reagan won the presidency for two terms. During these eight years, Nancy faced several crises, including an assassination attempt on her husband in 1981. In 1987, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and was forced to get a mastectomy. Nancy is also known for her behind-the-scenes influence regarding her husband’s schedule and selection of cabinet members. She wanted to keep him in a favorable image for the public, as she cared deeply for his well-being.

After the White House

Nancy Reagan’s reign as the first lady ended in 1989. She and her husband returned to Bel Air to retire. However, she was not finished pursuing her many talents. Nancy published an autobiography titled “My Turn.” She also created the Nancy Reagan Foundation to continue supporting drug prevention programs. In 1991, her husband was honored in a dedication ceremony at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, which is located in Simi Valley, California.

Ronald Reagan announced he was suffering from Alzheimer’s in 1994. His loving wife was his caretaker until he passed away in 2004. Not surprisingly, Nancy pressed Congress to increase federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. In 2009, she made a rare appearance at the White House, where she signed the Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission Act. She passed away of heart failure in 2016 at the age of 94.

The History of the Fourth of July

sparkler-839806_1920When you hear the Fourth of July, what do you think of? Some of you may picture a beautiful sunny afternoon with family and friends at the park or beach. Maybe you are having a barbecue. Others think of the magnificent firework displays that take place all across the USA. Parades, concerts, and baseball games are other fun activities that are popular on the 4th. Whatever your tradition is, chances are good you are wearing red, white, and blue to represent the American flag.

Although of these summertime pastimes are festive, there is a reason for the celebrations. It is the United States of America’s Independence Day. The famous holiday dates back to the 18th century when the new 13 colonies fought for their independence from Great Britain in the American Revolution.

The American Revolution lasted from 1775-1783. However, it was in 1776 that the delegates voted for complete independence from the king. The Continental Congress declared its Declaration of Independence on July 2nd. Two days later, Thomas Jefferson drafted the historical document. Therefore, July 4th is the celebrated holiday known as the birth of America’s independence.

The Idea of Independence

It was considered radical to desire total independence from the monarchy government. The Revolutionary War began in April of 1775, but just a few months later the population favored independence in its entirety. Great Britain opposed the activities of the 13 colonies, and great hostility grew between the distant lands. Thomas Paine penned the convincing pamphlet “Common Sense” that persuaded many colonists to view independence the only plausible answer. It was published in the early months of 1776.

Later that year, on June 7, Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee proposed the idea of independence while the Continental Congress met at the Pennsylvania State House, which later became Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The motion stirred a controversial debate, so Congress decided to delay the vote. However, five men were to draft a formal declaration to justify the action. These men included Thomas Jefferson from Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, and Robert R. Livingston of New York.

The Vote

Less than a month later, Congress held a meeting to vote either in favor of or against Lee’s resolution for independence. The vote was nearly unanimous except for the New York delegate. Initially, he abstained, but eventually affirmed. Ironically, John Adams penned a letter to his wife, Abigail, that July 2nd would be “celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival.” He also noted that the holiday should include “Pomp and Parade … Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.” Many of these celebrations are traditional now in the 21st century.

It was not until the fourth that the Congress officially accepted the Declaration of Independence. Despite the fact that the vote was adopted on July 2nd, we all know what day is celebrated as Independence Day.

Celebrating Independence Day

Before America’s independence, the king’s birthday was an annual holiday. The day consisted of bonfires, processions, speeches, and bells. During the Revolutionary War, colonists held mock funerals of King George III as a way to symbolize the end of his monarchy and the celebration of independence. Other festivities included concerts, parades, bonfires, and the firing of cannons, just as John Adams desired.

The first public reading of the Declaration of Independence took place on July 4, 1777, in Philadelphia, even though the Revolutionary War was not over. In 1778, George Washington, who was a commander in the war, allowed his soldiers to enjoy double rations of rum. Massachusetts was the first state to declare the Fourth of July a state holiday after the army won a battle at Yorktown.

The Revolutionary War ended victoriously for America in 1783. The celebrations continued every year across the United States. The holiday was drawing Americans closer together in unity.

An Official National Holiday

It was not until 1870, nearly a century later, that Congress made the Fourth of July a federal holiday. In 1941, it became a paid holiday for all federal employees. Although its political importance is not felt as much in the 21st century, the traditional celebrations still take place. People do not recite the Declaration of Independence, but they do enjoy spending time with family and friends barbecuing, going to parades, and watching fireworks. This has been standard since the late 19th century. However, since the beginning of time, the most common symbol of Independence Day has been the American flag. It can be seen flying all across the nation.

By Land or By Sea: Flags Are More Than Decorations

Sail Boat Flags

The open ocean has undeniable appeal, especially in today’s hectic, loud, busy world. The simplicity of a valiant sailing ship running before a brisk wind in silent elegance encapsulates a glorious idea of escape. One does not often find a quiet haven disturbed only by the rush of wind and water and the crying of seabirds. Even better, when it enables you to explore the greater world around you in unexpected and glorious ways. Full sails and salt spray hearken back to the earliest adventurers and traders looking upon the mysterious shores of a New World.

Sailboats

Modern day sailing is an interesting and challenging art that requires both physical effort and careful study—and is becoming more and more popular as a delightful warm-weather hobby. The perennial popularity of the Boston Sailing School on the Charles River in Massachusetts is testimony; children of all ages learn to set sail and love the open water. Each year hundreds of young people grapple with every level of challenge, from beginners to advanced racing techniques, and even nighttime navigation.

The Eastern Seaboard teems with opportunities for unique adventure, far from the dubious delights of fast food and social media. Sailing, it seems, can be for almost everyone, as these sea-going beauties come in all sizes. Even tiny solo sailboats command as much respect as luxurious multi-bedroom yachts when it comes to sheer accomplishment and skill. In one respect, however, they all have a beautifully uniting feature: They all fly colors.

Letter Flags

A flag is an identity at sea, a statement of who you are and where you are from. One flies the flag of one’s country in pride and honor, but there is also a vibrant, beautiful language of smaller flags utilizing an internationally recognized code for communication. Using 26 pennons to represent the letters of the alphabet that are described in NATO phonetic terms (A=alpha, B=bravo, C=charlie, etc.) these small, brilliant flags help international ships pass quick, efficient messages.

Making the whole concept a little more complex is the idea that each of those letter flags also has a specific meaning in and of itself, so “A” is also “diver down, keep clear.” A celebration of Tall Ships would hardly be the same without the brilliant buntings training from the mast. It’s also fascinating to see the messages they post for other ships to see—a conversation right in front of us that only very few know how to interpret.

International Code Flags at AmericanFlags.com

Luckily enough, AmericanFlags.com carries the entire 40 piece package of these International Code flags. The total 26 piece alphabet is supplemented with the complete eleven piece set of numeric flags, an answer flag, and three “spacers” to help with signal clarity. Though the mastery of this art requires diligence and persistence, the effect of sailing into port with the Stars and Stripes billowing and a carefully worded “Happy 4th of July” has an undeniable cachet. Not only does a sailing vessel look more festive with international code flags, they also instill a sense of pride in one’s self for mastering a unique form of communication. A little bit of satisfied smugness could be justified from such a display of unusual artistry.

Carefully constructed of long wearing, double seamed nylon, these International Code flags are available in six different sizes to suit the magnitude of your vessel. American made and tested by AmericanFlags.com ourselves, these flags are guaranteed to last and stay beautiful. Appropriate ropes and fittings are included with each set, as is a durable storage duffle to keep your collection safe and organized.

Colors are brilliantly dyed, fade-resistant, and of internationally approved combinations and patterns. Designed to withstand the harsh conditions found at sea, this attractive collection can also be used to add flair and identity to the homes of proud Navy families, and is a beautiful, patriotic addition to the Stars and Stripes.

Flags, Heraldry and the Origins of the Banners We Fly

national-colours-1002786_1920

Today, many families carefully research and proudly display the crests and mottoes of their ancestors, and pore through family trees to trace the genealogy of their families. A sense of belonging is a basic need, and knowing our origins is a way to connect with those who came before us. While still feeling American first, knowing the nationality of our ancestors helps with that sense of belonging, and many Americans proudly recognize and celebrate the cultures from which they came. Celebrating St. Patrick’s day decked out in green or having a margarita on Cinco de Mayo, we can be proud of where we came from. Flying a flag in honor of our family’s origins is a special way to demonstrate that sense of belonging, and AmericanFlags.com makes this easy with its offerings of a wide range of international flags.

National Flags

While learning about one’s own origins, it will become apparent that many national flags seem to have common origins, with many colors, patterns, and emblems all held in common. As with the genealogy of people, national flags have a genealogy—a history of their own.

The genesis of the national flag can be found in the battlefields of antiquity and in the pageantry of the middle ages. The popular image of the medieval knight in shining armor evokes a sense of romance, of valor, of men at arms fighting for the honor of a fair maiden. A closer look at the medieval knight though will show that their equipment was not just designed to protect them, but also to identify them upon the battlefield or tournament list.

Heraldry Through History

A unique art form, known as heraldry, was developed for the rigorous rules that developed as this grew. Far from just an art of pageantry, the combinations of colors, patterns, shapes, selections of animals and other objects formed a complex language of identification. In battle it helped separate friend from foe, and in a tournament it helped the wearer to stand out from the crowd.

In the heraldic tradition, different colors and symbols came to embody different meanings. For example, to display a bear on one’s heraldry was to portray strength, the rose to symbolize beauty, while the axe implied duty. The colors, too, carried meaning, and there were strict rules about which colors could be placed next to each other. Even in medieval times the red, white, and blue of our own Stars and Stripes represented ideas of strength, innocence, and dedication.

In fact, the rules of heraldry first articulated in the middle ages carry through to the modern day and have direct bearing on the development of modern flags. Even today, flags must follow the strict guidelines of principles such as “the Rule of Tincture,” and Colleges of Heralds still exist to ensure that new heraldic devices follow the antique rules. For example, when Kate Middleton married Prince William and became the Duchess of Cambridge, it was necessary for her to be granted a coat of arms.

Her device was created to represent her, her family and its impending connection to the Royal Family of Great Britain. It consists of three acorns separated with gold and white chevrons, and contains “jokes” that only those versed in heraldry would likely appreciate. The acorns were to represent the Duchess and her siblings. The gold chevron refers to her mother’s maiden name, Goldsmith, and the division down the center between blue and red is a pun on her surname Middle-ton. There are some basic concepts of medieval heraldry.

Modern Heraldry

The influence of medieval heraldry extends beyond royal families. Many of these archaic laws of heraldry are still found in design today, from advertising to clothing trends. As with the original meaning of colors carrying down to modern flags, specific emblems from  medieval heraldry continue to appear in modern logos. For example, a cross that once represented an off-shoot of the infamous Knights Templar is found in the logos of the Portuguese and Brazilian national Soccer Teams. The Emblem of the Order of Christ, an offshoot of the Knights Templar, is still used today in crests of both the Brazilian and Portuguese National Soccer Teams.

Historical Flags

As a modern American, the world of the medieval knight and his heraldry can seem so far away as to be of little meaning. However, while time moves on, and particular politicians may come and go, ideas endure, and a flag, more than anything else, represents an idea. The historical flag collection at AmericanFlags.com offers a sampling of such flags.

Just as fashion will disappear only to find itself in vogue again, many Americans find themselves sharing ideas with our Revolutionary forefathers. In this light,  Gadsden’s famed “Don’t Tread on Me” banner once again finds itself flown proudly by Americans seeking to ensure our government does not overreach its bounds and tread on the freedoms so many Americans have given so much to protect.

Raising a flag in your front yard for all to see evokes that ancient sense of belonging, of marking what is precious and what belongs to us as individuals and as a nation. Perhaps without even being aware of it, we take our place in the line of those who display character through the colors we fly. A beautiful, well-made flag highlights an American home as a bastion of those virtues we share and hold dear, and our carefully constructed, made in the USA offerings of American flags will make sure that your respect for the traditions embodied in the flag you fly are as evident as the meaning they evoke.

Honoring Our Fallen: The American Flag Presentation

Cemetary American FlagEveryday men and women join our Armed Services, some making the ultimate sacrifice in laying down their lives.  The worst moment in any spouse, parent, or child’s life is seeing the uniformed soldier walk up to your front door, knowing exactly what it is they are about to tell you.  You heart races, a churning in your stomach, knowing the person you love most in the world has given their life to protect our country and freedom.

Families of The Fallen

For the comrades, the most difficult duty they ever perform is driving to the home of the fallen soldier’s parents.  Once they greet the family, they present a tri-folded American flag to commemorate the fallen soldier.  The soldier’s comrades will say something along the lines of, “Your son/daughter fought honorably. On behalf of the President of the United States, please accept this flag as a gift in appreciation for the sacrifice your son/daughter has made.”

The Burial Ceremony

To honor these heroes, the military has an established a beautiful burial ceremony, with slight differences depending on the branch of armed forces in which the fallen fought and died. The wishes of the fallen soldier and the family are always taken into consideration, to ensure the preferred religious requirements are included in the ceremony.

As a military funeral begins, the flags are lowered to half-mast, in honor of the soldier who died.  This gesture is often comforting to the family, knowing their departed loved one died for the country they loved, and that their memory will live on in every American by honoring his or her sacrifice.

Most funerals are presided over by a priest, minister, pastor or other religious figure, and they will speak comforting words about the fallen hero, including appropriate excerpts that are beautiful and heartening.  In a military funeral, some things remain the same across the different branches of service.

Traditionally, the American flag is laid across the casket, with the blue stars over the heart (left side) of the fallen hero.  Often, after the religious part of the ceremony has completed, there will be a 21 gun salute, while another soldier plays “Taps” on the trumpet.  This is the most saddening part of any funeral, as the notes played pull at your heartstrings like nothing else will.

The Folding of the Flag

While Taps is being played, officers from the deceased’s branch of service will take the edges of the flag and begin the 13 folds, which, since the inception of this tradition, have developed multiple meanings.  The most common words spoken by the officers are:

The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.

The second fold is a symbol of our belief in the eternal life.

The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks who gave a portion of life for the defense of our country to attain a peace throughout the world.

The fourth fold represents our weaker nature, for, as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in times of war for His divine guidance.

The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for, in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.”

The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

The seventh fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.

The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered in to the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.

The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood; for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great have been molded.

The tenth fold is a tribute to father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.

The eleventh fold, in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The twelfth fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost.

When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God we Trust.”

After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington, and the sailors and marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today. You can read more scripts for the folding of the American flag.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the flag is presented to the next of kin, often the parents, spouse, or child of the fallen hero.  Depending on the branch of the Armed Services in which the deceased served, the phrase the officer says to the family upon presenting the flag may change a bit.  Below are the comforting words of appreciation used, courtesy of Military Salute:

U.S. Air Force:

“On behalf of the President of the United States, the Department of the Air Force, and a grateful nation, we offer this flag for the faithful and dedicated service of (Service Member’s rank and name).”

U.S. Army:

“This flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation and the United States Army as a token of appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.”

U.S. Coast Guard:

“On behalf of the President of the United States, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s service to Country and the Coast Guard.”

U.S. Marine Corps:

“On behalf of the President of the United States, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s service to Country and Corps.”

U.S. Navy:

“On behalf of the President of the United States and the Chief of Naval Operations, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s service to this Country and a grateful Navy.”

These ceremonies are extremely emotional and often come too soon in a soldier’s life.  The best thing anyone can do is be sure to use a flag made by Americans, for Americans, to honor an American soldier. You can find the highest quality flags available at AmericanFlags.com, founded in Long Island, New York just one month after 9/11.

The Stars and Stripes

American Flag

At its most basic level, a flag is simply fabric, some color, maybe a pattern, and some stitching to pull it all together. However, a flag is not the sum of the materials that make it up; the worth of a flag is in the sum of ideas that it represents. While Betsy Ross understood that the cloth she fabricated into 13 stars, and 13 stripes was to represent a burgeoning nation, she could not have foreseen what that banner would come to represent, what would become the fabric of the nation that was coming to life.

The American Flag at the White House

Rather, flying over the White House, or your own house, our American flag is now a universal symbol of liberty, freedom, and democracy the world over. Rather, raised by valiant Marines over Iwo Jima in that most iconic of images, or raised by your own family on the fourth of July, the Stars and Stripes is flown with pride, pride in our nation, in our noble history, and our present role as the guardians of liberty around the globe.

Crafted and first hoisted in rebellion during troubled times, the pigments and patterns have long encapsulated the elements of what it means to be American: pride, honesty, and the value of hard work. Strong and flexible, the very threads of the American flag reflect the complex interwoven mixture of cultures and values that have produced our unique and multifaceted national character.

The Colors of the Flag

While initially speaking of the colors of our Nation’s Great Seal, the shared colors of the Stars and Stripes have, over time, become enriched with meaning, expanding on our national legacy, each significant for the virtues and values they represent within our republic: White for the purity and innocence of a new nation; red to represent the valor, hardiness, and commitment that would be necessary to defend the republic; and blue to embody the vigilance and justice necessary to ensure the perseverance of the noble experiment the nation has built and sustained. A nation as Lincoln so eloquently stated, which was conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Is there any wonder why our flag commands such strong emotions and such respect across the globe?

Welcome to the Home of the American Flag

At AmericanFlags.com we pride ourselves on our selection of high quality American flags, made right here in the USA. We offer American flags made by Americans, for Americans, right here at home. You’ll also find flagpoles, and a wide array of other supplies to allow you and your family to demonstrate the pride you feel toward our great land. Holidays like the Fourth of July are, of course, ideal times to display your patriotism; however, your patriotic spirit need not wait for America’s birthday to be on display! Displaying the flag shows your true American spirit year round—that same spirit which has made America the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave for more than two centuries.

Along with our wide array of items to show your pride in our great land, AmericanFlags.com also offers a complete line of historic flags, military flags, world flags, state and city flags, along with flags advertising religious and sports affiliations for indoor and outdoor use. You won’t find a more comprehensive selection of quality flags anywhere else.

Our wide range of offerings reflects the extensive history of flags, from their origin in ancient times, to their prominent role in medieval heraldry, and their continued use to reflect pride in one’s origins, or more mundane affiliations. Banners praising sports teams, promoting public events, schools, and companies can be seen everywhere. Soldiers the world over bear their country’s flag on their uniforms with grace and pride. Global sporting events such as The Olympic Games or The World Cup offer vivid visual cascades of countries represented through color. Though admirable for their simple beauty alone, these flags clearly proclaim a simple, wordless message: “I belong.”

It is no doubt this message of belonging that brought the flag to the prominent role it plays in society today. At AmericanFlags.com you’ll find what you need to display your own feelings of belonging