How the American Flag Inspires Us

Great Moments in History When the Flag United Our Country

The American flag is a symbol with so many connotations, evoking so many powerful emotions, and it has served as a rallying point throughout American history. We fly it at half-mast when someone has died. We fly it with pride in our front yards. It is our crest that means freedom and home. During some of the most turbulent times in our rich past, the American flag has reignited hope, united opposing sides, and has said to the world, “We came, we saw, we conquered.”

birth-of-a-nation

One of the earliest images of the American flag is a painting that depicts Betsy Ross showing the prototype American flag to George Washington and some other gentlemen, who could be Congressmen. The painting is titled “Birth of a Nation.” While it is only legend, it is said that Washington visited Betsy Ross’ shop on many occasions and even commissioned her to sew some of his own ruffled shirts.

When it came time to come up with a flag design for our new nation, legend has it that Washington and fellow Congressmen went to Ross and asked her to take on the task. Fact for thought: It is proven that she had sewn many colors for Pennsylvania state’s ships, so it isn’t hard to believe that she would have been asked to design and sew a flag for a much more important need.

While it is only legend, with many historians proving it cannot be true, it is still one that gives pride to every American, knowing the creation of our flag. We believe the legend because it is heartwarming to feel we know the story of how the roots of our country were planted.

Next is a famous battle that became a decisive fight in the Spanish-American War known as The Battle of San Juan Hill, or San Juan Heights. This running heights just east of Santiago, Cuba was one of the bloodiest battles of the war, but also the most famous victory of the Rough Riders. Their commander was none other than the future president, Theodore Roosevelt.

There is documentation of this valiant battle, a firsthand account from Richard Harding Davis who was a reporter and present on this no-name hill in 1898. Writing about the charge up the hill, led by Colonel Roosevelt and General Hawkins, he describes,

“These two officers were notably conspicuous in the charge, but no one can claim

that any two men, or anyone man, was more brave or more daring, or showed

greater courage in that slow, stubborn advance than did any of the others . . .”

(Courtesy of http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/roughriders.htm)

Continuing his account, Davis writes about the charge up the hill, men fighting all along the way, and concluding with this detailed description of the flag being hoisted to signify the taking of San Juan Hill.

“They drove the yellow silk flags of the cavalry and the Stars and Stripes of their

country into the soft earth of the trenches, and then sank down and looked back

at the road they had climbed and swung their hats in the air.”

(Courtesy of http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/roughriders.htm)

The exhausted joy these men must have felt, knowing they survived and won, yet not knowing the picture of them surrounding the raised American flag would live on well over a century later.

During World War II in the Pacific arena, there was an incredible battle in which the U.S. Marines landed and captured the island of Iwo Jima. It could easily be argued that this image is the most powerful image in our entire history.

The Japanese were hunkered down in underground bunkers, with hidden artillery units and miles of tunnels connecting it all. For the Marines, it was like fighting a hornet’s nest. The Battle at Iwo Jima was one of the bloodiest of the war, where the casualties of Americans were higher in number than on Japan’s side. This is mostly due to the quantity of soldiers sent to Iwo Jima, in order to guarantee a win.

The Marines had naval support and the Air Force dominated the skies, raining bombs on the Japanese bunkers. On the 5th day of the battle, which only lasted a total of 36 days, a group of American soldiers made up of five Marines and one Navy combat corpsman, raised the American flag on Mount Suribachi. Joe Rosenthal’s iconic photo has become a symbol that is synonymous with World War II and the U.S Marine Corp.

A hauntingly similar photo, which elicits a strong emotional reaction ranging from anger, to sadness, to patriotism is the American flag-raising at Ground Zero, hoisted just hours after the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center Towers. Three fireman, standing about 20 feet off the ground on debris, raised the flag in a way that is so eerily reminiscent of the Iwo Jima photo.

The terrorist attacks inspired such fear and anger in the American people that it created a unity which was unparalleled in this generation. People from all around the world rose to the challenge of helping New York clean up and recover from this tragedy. The photo truly serves as a rallying point for a wave of patriotism that rippled not only through America, but the world.

With all of the emotions tied into the emblem of our nation, it seems almost blasphemy to think of purchasing one made in China or Taiwan. If you want an American flag to display in your yard, home, or anywhere else, for that matter, buy American. AmericanFlags.com, located on Long Island, New York, opened their doors shortly after the September 11 attacks. Check out our high-quality products made by Americans, for Americans.

President Obama Orders Flags Flown at Half-Staff to Honor Navy Yard Victims

All American flags are to be flown at half-staff immediately until sunset on Friday, September 20, 2013. President Obama’s proclamation is below:

HONORING THE VICTIMS OF THE TRAGEDY AT THE WASHINGTON NAVY YARD

——–

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on September 16, 2013, at the Washington Navy Yard, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, September 20, 2013. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.

Flag Day – June 14, 2013

That the flag of the United States shall be of thirteen stripes of alternate red and white, with a union of thirteen stars of white in a blue field, representing the new constellation.

flagsThis was the resolution adopted by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. The resolution was made following the report of a special committee which had been assigned to suggest the american flag’s design.

A flag of this design was first carried into battle on September 11, 1777, in the Battle of the Brandywine. The American flag was first saluted by foreign naval vessels on February 14, 1778, when the Ranger, bearing the Stars and Stripes and under the command of Captain Paul Jones, arrived in a French port. The flag first flew over a foreign territory in early 1778 at Nassau, Bahama Islands, where Americans captured a British fort.

Observance of the adoption of the flag was not soon in coming, however. Although there are many claims to the first official observance of Flag Day, all but one took place more than an entire century after the flag’s adoption in 1777.

The first claim was from a Hartford, Conn., celebration during the first summer of 1861. In the late 1800s, schools all over the United States held Flag Day programs to contribute to the Americanization of immigrant children, and the observance caught on with individual communities.

The most recognized claim, however, comes from New York. On June 14, 1889, Professor George Bolch, principal of a free kindergarten for the poor of New York City, had his school hold patriotic ceremonies to observe the anniversary of the Flag Day resolution. This initiative attracted attention from the State Department of Education, which arranged to have the day observed in all public schools thereafter.

The most recognized claim, however, comes from New York. On June 14, 1889, Professor George Bolch, principal of a free kindergarten for the poor of New York City, had his school hold patriotic ceremonies to observe the anniversary of the Flag Day resolution. This initiative attracted attention from the State Department of Education, which arranged to have the day observed in all public schools thereafter.

Soon the state legislature passed a law making it the responsibility of the state superintendent of public schools to ensure that schools hold observances for Lincoln’s Birthday, Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day and Flag Day. In 1897, the governor of New York ordered the displaying of the flag over all public buildings in the state, an observance considered by some to be the first official recognition of the anniversary of the adoption of the flag outside of schools.

Another claim comes from Philadelphia. In 1893, the Society of Colonial Dames succeeded in getting a resolution passed to have the flag displayed on all of the city’s public buildings. Elizabeth Duane Gillespie, a direct descendant of Benjamin Franklin and the president of the Colonial Dames of Pennsylvania, that same year tried to get the city to call June 14 Flag Day. Resolutions by women were not granted much notice, however, and it was not until May 7, 1937, that Pennsylvania became the first state to establish the June 14 Flag Day as a legal holiday. Flag Day is a nationwide observance today, but Pennsylvania is the only state that recognizes it as a legal holiday.

Bernard J. Cigrand, a school teacher in Waubeka, Wisconsin, reportedly spent years trying to get Congress to declare June 14 as a national holiday. Although his attempts failed, the day was widely observed. “Father of Flag Day” honors have been given to William T. Kerr, who was credited with founding the American Flag Day Association in 1888 while still a schoolboy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Both President Wilson, in 1916, and President Coolidge, in 1927, issued proclamations asking for June 14 to be observed as the National Flag Day. But it wasn’t until August 3, 1949, that Congress approved the national observance, and President Harry Truman signed it into law.

Click here for more Flag Day History.

High School Senior Works to Put Flags in Classrooms

classroomflagWe recently read about a Michigan high school senior – Allison Collins – who in response to new state legislation is working hard to put am American Flag in every classroom across the state. Ms. Collins is a Girl Scout and this initiative has become her “Gold Project.” To date, she’s raised $2,752 for the project and is going full steam ahead. Kudos to Allison Collins for taking on this important task and demonstrating such patriotism and leadership!

You can buy flags for classrooms in your community at AmericanFlags.com.

South Carolina Teacher Grabs $85,000 for Stomping US Flag

South Carolina teacher Scott Compton is reportedly receiving $85,000 in settlement money after he was removed from his Chapin High School classroom after stomping on an American flag while discussing freedom. The school district paid the monies after Compton threatened a federal lawsuit. He has also received his annual salary since the incident last fall (even though he hasn’t taught since then) and will receive a letter of recommendation from the district. Compton has told reporters that he was simply trying to teach the students a lesson about American freedoms and liberties. Indeed, Compton has the right to stomp on our national symbol, but that doesn’t make it correct.  And expecting good judgement from our teachers shouldn’t be too much to ask.

A news story on Scott Compton’s payday is linked here.

Palm Beach County Targets Patriots Again

imagesPalm Beach County has a long history of opposing the display of American flags – remember Donald Trump’s flag flap? This time, officials are telling a 24-year-old USMC veteran that he can’t fly an American flag without permits (that cost hundreds of dollars) for a flagpole. Several folks have stepped up to help him get the required permits, but as municipalities face large budget deficits and other challenges, it’s hard to understand why they’d be spending time and money hassling veterans who fought for our freedoms – including the right to fly our national symbol.

Here’s a link to the news story about the former U.S. Marine who has been told his flagpole violates Hypoluxo code.

Flags at What Price?

An article in yesterday’s New York Times entitled, “Flags’ Waving Doesn’t Come Cheap” highlighted the fact that New York City spends about $160,000 per year keeping its flagpoles in shape. Last year the city spent about $3,000 for each flagpole for painting and any required repairs. That sounds like a ton of money – especially for a city – that is strapped for cash and cutting services for poor people, children, seniors and veterans. Still, the financial center of the world and the city most impacted by 9/11 should proudly display the American flag. Maybe New York City should start an “Adopt a Flagpole” sponsorship program and let some of the hundreds of thousands of businesses in the NY-Metro area take care of those flagpoles in a way that would be more cost-effective and timely.images