The United States Flag is the third oldest of the national standards of the world; okder than the Union Jack of Great britain or the tricolor of France. "Old Glory" was first authorized by Congress June 14, 1777. This date is now celebrated throughout the Nation by the observation of Flag Day.
The flag, which had 13 stripes alternationg red and white representing the 13 states and the rectangular blue field with 13 white stars forming a circle within it was a development of several flags, which had been used in early Revolitionary battles. It was first decreed that there should be a star and stripe for the early state, making 13 of both; for the States, at that time, had just been formed from the original 13 colonies. The colors of Old Glory may be thus explained:
The red for valor, zeal and fervency; white for hope, purity, cleanliness of heart and rectitude of conduct; the blue, the color of the sky, epitomizing heaven for reverence to God, loyalty, sincerity, justice and truth.
The stars (an ancient symbol of India, Persia and Egypth) symbolize dominion and sovereignty, as well as loyal aspirations. The constellation of the stars within the Union, one star for each State, is emblematic of our Constitution, which leaves to the States their individual sovereignty except as to rights specifically delegated to the Federal government.
Old Glory is said to have been flown for the first rime on June 15, 1777, near Bound Brook, New Jersey, over Washington's Headquarters and to have been first under fire in the Battle of Oriskany, August 6, 1777. It first flew over foreign territory on January 28, 1778 at Nassau, Bahama Islands, Fort Nassau having been captured by the Americans in the War of Independence. The first foreign salute to the flag was offered by the French Admiral LaMotte Piquet off Quiberon Bay, February 13, 1778.
In 1795, after admission of Vermont and Kentucky to the Union, the number of stars and stripes was raised to 15. As other states were admitted to the Union during the next few few years it became impracticle to add both stars and stripes. Congress, therefore, passed an act on April 14, 1818, restoring the 13 alternate red and white stripes as representing the 13 original states and provided for addition of one star for each state upon its admission to the Union.
The last laddition to the American flag was made July 14, 1912, when two stars were added---one for Arizona and one for New Mexico---bringing the number to 48. Of course since than there have been 2 more stars added with Alaska and Hawaii entering the Union.
As the manner in which the stars were to be arranged in a Blue field was not decided by Congress. It was determined jointly by the Secretary of Defnse and the Secretary of the Navy with the approval of the President of the United States.
The name "Old Glory" was given to our national flag August 10, 1831, by Captain Wm. Driver of the Brig Chas. Doggett.
Old Glory symbolizes national independence and popular sovereignty. It is not the flag of a reigning family or royal house but of a hundered million free people welded into a nation, one and insepatrable, united not only by community of interest but by vital unity of sentiment and purpose; a nation distinguished for the clear individual conception of its citizens alike of their duties and their privileges, their obligations and their rights.
Old Glory incarnates for all mankind the spirit of Liberty and the glorious ideal of human freedom; not the freedom of unrestraint or the liberty of license, but a unique ideal of equal opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, safeguarded by the stern and lofty principles of duty, of righteousness and of justice and attainable by obedience to self-imposed laws.
Floating from the lofty pinnacle of American idealism, it is a beacon of enduring hope, like the famous Bartholdi Statue of Liberty enlightening the world, to the oppressed of all lands. it floats over a wonderous assemblage of people from every racial stock of the earth whose united hearts constitute and indivisible and invinvible force for the defense and succor of the down-trodden.
Old Glory embodies the essence of patriotism. its spirit is the spirit of the American nation. Its history is the history of the American people. Emblazoned upon its folds in letters of living light are the names and fame of our heroic dead, the Fathers of the Republic who devoted upon its altars their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. Twice told tales of national honor and glory cluster thickly about it. Ever victorious, it has emerged triumphant from nine great national conflicts. it flew at Saratoga, at Yorktown, at Palo Alto, at Gettysburg, at Manila Bay, at Chateau-Thierry at Mount Suribachi. It bears witness to the immense expansion of our national boundaries, the development of our natural resources and the spendid structure of our civilization. It prophsies the triumph of popular government of civic and reilgious liberty and of national righteousness throughout the world.
Old Glory first rose over thirteen states along the Atlantic seaboard with a population of some three million people. Today it flies over fity states, extending across the continent and over great islands of the two oceans; and over two hundred eighty million owe it allegiance. It has been brought to this proud position by love and sacrifice. Citizens have advanced it and heroes have died for it. it is the sign made visible of the strongspirit that has brought liberty and prosperity to the people of America. It is the flag of all of us alike. Lets remember it and accord it honor and loyalty.