The 39 historical flags of our country:
Oil painting by Zemund.
Have you ever wondered what is the big deal about the American Flag? Why do people fly it with so much pride? What do the stars, stripes, and colors represent?
My home over the last year was a target of vandalism toward our American Flag, everything from slashes from a knife, to finally breaking it out of its holder, then stealing it. This has gotten me to ponder how much knowledge does this generation have about our flag with our great day of independence celebration approaching.
(Our American Flag)
History of the American Flag:
On June 14, 1777, in order to establish an official flag for the new nation, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act: “Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”
Act of January 13, 1794 – provided for 15 stripes and 15 stars after May 1795.
Act of April 4, 1818 – provided for 13 stripes and one star for each state, to be added to the flag on the 4th of July following the admission of each new state, signed by President Monroe.
Executive Order of President Taft dated June 24, 1912 – established proportions of the flag and provided for arrangement of the stars in six horizontal rows of eight each, a single point of each star to be upward.
Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated January 3, 1959 – provided for the arrangement of the stars in seven rows of seven stars each, staggered horizontally and vertically.
Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated August 21, 1959 – provided for the arrangement of the stars in nine rows of stars staggered horizon tally and eleven rows of stars staggered vertically (usflag.org)
Why do people fly the American Flag?
Over my career as a pastor, and in the public sector in social work I have met so many men and women who served our country in multiple wars: including the Korean war, World War 2, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom, Afghanistan, the list goes one. I have also met families who have lost fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters to the altar of freedom. It amazes me when I meet these individuals they have a great love for our country that runs deeper than any understanding that words can describe. Our Country was birthed as a nation of freedom, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We have amazing documents that are what our nation was founded on: the US Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, the list goes on. We as a people wanted freedom from tierany, freedom to worship God as we like, and to not have a government-run our lives.
When I have had conversations with these veterans I have always asked what does the flag mean to you? My life is always touched, changed and impacted when I see old and young, men and women begin to tear up when they start to think of “Old Glory” the American Flag. It not only represents all of our states, the original thirteen colonies, it represents all of the values, beliefs, and freedoms that our nation was founded upon. In these great men and women when they see the American Flag fly they are reminded of their friends, loved ones who laid down their lives upon the altar of freedom so that they could be free.
A US marine said “– The American flag represents what I spent four years of my life doing, which is protecting that flag and our way of life. It means home to me; so protecting our flag means protecting my home. For myself? There are days you just don’t think about all that has been given for this country. I am guilty of that as I am sure you are as well. And then there are those days that you see the American flag waving in the wind, with a bright blue sky as the back drop and it is the perfect picture. The colors so vibrant, the sound as the wind moves the flag to and fro. There are days it stirs something within my heart; pride, respect and at times awe, knowing what so many have given and continue to give for this country. It is that feeling that we as Americans need to remember. The “awe” of what has been given for us. The honor that needs to be given for those to protect, honor and defend our country” (usmilitary.com).
Below are two photos of Arlington National Cemetery. In the first photo you see a brave member of the US Military being laid to rest. Next to this you see a wife lay down next to her husband who was killed in the line of duty to guarantee our freedoms.
photos from news.nationalgeographic.com
These images are powerful. I would encourage any of this current generation who desecrates the flag, burns it or disrespects it in any way to spend some time at Arlington National Cemetery. Read all of the names on the marble walls of service men killed or missing in action. Spend time with the families who have lost their loved ones in the line of duty. You will begin to understand the deep sense of awe at those who have done so much for us, given of their lives, so that you can have the ultimate freedoms that you enjoy. When you look at the American Flag flying it should be an emotional reverence for this nation, our service men and women, and the great sacrifices that have gone before us.
I fly my American Flag everyday as a sign of respect, love, and appreciation for my country, the service men serving now and before. The lives that have been laid down to preserve my rights, my children’s rights and to protect our great nation. The Flag has an emotional stirring for me everyday I leave my house to goto work I am reminded.
My challenge to you is where is your Flag? Why are you not flying a flag everyday?
photo from history.com