It’s flown proudly in front of homes across America. It soars above federal, state, and public buildings. It’s displayed in classrooms, at cemetaries, at sporting events, and parades. It symbolizes American freedom and liberty. And while, the history of the Stars and Stripes is a colorful one, it is generally acknowledged that June 14, 1777 is the birthdate of the United States Flag.
This year, Old Glory is celebrating 246 years.
On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution stating that “the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white” and that “the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
The current version of the flag dates to July 4, 1960, after Hawaii was admitted into the union as the fiftieth state on August 21, 1959.
The Star Spangled Banner, written by Francis Scott Key in 1814, was adopted as our National Anthem in 1931. Key wrote the verses on the morning of September 14, 1814, as U.S. soldiers raised a large American flag over Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland during the War of 1812.
There is no greater, more beautiful, and instantly recognizable symbol of our Nation and its ideals, traditions, and values than the flag of the United States. The thirteen stripes of red and white remind us of the courage and steadfastness of those who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to found this great experiment in republican government. The white stars on a field of blue stand for the 13 original colonies that formed the nucleus of the new Nation and the 37 states that have become part of our Nation since then. Those many stars recall the saga of our growth as we spanned a continent. The colors of our flag signify the qualities of the human spirit we Americans cherish: red for courage and readiness to sacrifice; white for pure intentions and high ideals; and blue for vigilance and justice. ~ President Ronald Reagan, Proclamation 5475, May 12, 1986
The Pledge of Allegiance
The Pledge of Allegiance was first introduced in 1892. In 1923 the words “of the United States of America” were added. In 1942, the Pledge was officially adopted as our national oath. In 1954, during the Cold War era, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words “under God.” Since that time, the 31-word oath has remained unchanged.
Over the course of its 100-year history, the Pledge of Allegiance has faced criticism, legal challenges, and at times, opposition. Much of the dispute has focused on the wording, particularly the phrase, “under God.” However, there have been a number of cases reaching the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of requiring students to recite the pledge in public school classrooms.
In one of the earliest cases, the Supreme Court ruled that “the Free Speech clause of the First Amendment prohibits public schools from forcing students to salute the American flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance.” This precedent, established in 1943, has remained the consistent ruling of the Court in similar cases since.
Students still recite the Pledge of Allegiance in most public school classrooms today. However, there are varying exceptions or exemptions granted by each of the 47 states that maintain the practice.
The Unifying Symbol of our Nation
Old Glory has led soldiers into battle since the Revolutionary War. It has inspired men and women to accomplish great deeds and to pay the ultimate sacrifice for the liberty and freedom it represents. It is draped over the caskets of the fallen and displayed in cemeteries throughout the country in remembrance and honor of those who have perished defending our freedom.
The U. S. flag flies proudly above our federal, state, and local government buildings because it is the symbol of our Republic. It is displayed in churches and houses of worship because it symbolizes our freedom to worship God as our conscious calls us. It is seen in business establishments across the country because it symbolizes our free-enterprise system. It is displayed in classrooms because it symbolizes our values and our traditions. We display it on our porches and in our yards because we are proud to be Americans.
In times of turmoil and upheaval, we rally around it, united in preserving and protecting the bond we share as American citizens.
Our flag is a national treasure. It is the unifying symbol of our nation. As such, it deserves to be safeguarded, and more importantly, respected.
White stars atop a canvas,
of deepest midnight blue,
flanked by stripes of white and red,
our Nation lives in you.
Symbol of great sacrifice,
and the cause for which men bled,
from Revolution to Independence,
for Freedom, it was shed.
With Faith in Liberty,
upon that firm foundation,
trusting God to guide them,
they established a new Nation.
WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS,
BUT DO WE HOLD THEM STILL?
The the fickle tides are churning,
with men’s selfish, feeble will.
These words only have meaning,
if we still hold them true,
the ideals so bravely fought for,
beneath THE RED, THE WHITE, THE BLUE.
LIFE AND LIBERTY,
THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS,
rely upon our Unity,
and our willingness,
to stand before the dragon,
behind our Flag of Freedom,
to bravely raise our standards,
to valiantly defend them.
The sacred bonds they forged,
and the heritage we stand for,
are stitched into the fabric,
of this Flag that still Unites us.
More than just a symbol,
it conveys that FREEDOM RINGS,
and that we will defend the pledge,
recited in its name.
JN Fenwick (© 2023) | mothjournal14