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The History of The Flag

The Flag of the United States is the third oldest of the National standards of the world; older than the Union Jack of Britain or the Tricolor of France.   

The Flag was first authorized by Congress June 14, 1777. This date is now observed as Flag Day  throughout America.  

The Flag was first flown from Fort Stanwix, on the site of the present city of Rome, New York, on August 3, 1777. It was first under fire three days later in the Battle of Oriskany, August 6, 1777.  

It was decreed that there should be a star and a stripe for each state, making 13 of both, for the states at that time had just been erected from the original 13 colonies.  

The colors of the Flag may be thus explained: The red is for valor, zeal and fervency; the white for hope, purity, cleanliness of life and rectitude of conduct; the blue, the color of heaven, for reverence of God, loyalty, sincerity, justice and truth.  

The star (an ancient symbol of India, Persia and Egypt) symbolizes dominion and sovereignty, as well as aspirations. The constellation of the stars within the union---one star for each state---is emblematic of our Federal Constitution, which reserves to the states their individual sovereignty, except as to rights delegated by them to the Federal Government.  

The symbolism of the Flag was thus interpreted by Washington: "We take the stars from heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down in posterity representing liberty."  

In 1791, Vermont, and in 1792, Kentucky were admitted to the Union and the number of stars and stripes were raised to 15 in correspondence. As other states came into the Union, it became evident there would be too many stripes. So in 1818, Congress enacted that the number of stripes be reduced and restricted to 13, representing the 13 original states, while a star should be added for each succeeding state. That is the law of today.  

The name 'Old Glory' was given to the Flag, August 10, 1831, by Captain William Driver of the brig Charles Doggett.  

The Flag was first carried in battle at the Brandywine, September 11, 1777. It first flew over foreign territory January 28, 1778, at Nassau, Bahama Islands; Fort Nassau having been captured by the Americans in the course of the war for independence. The first foreign salute to the Flag was rendered by the French admiral, LaMotte, off Quiberon Bay, February 13, 1778.  

The United States Flag is unique in the deep and noble significance of its message to the entire world---a message of national independence, of individual liberty, of idealism, of patriotism. 

It symbolizes national independence and popular sovereignty. It is not the Flag of a reigning family or royal house, but of over two hundred million free people welded into one Nation, one and inseparable, 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. 

It 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 an 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 wondrous assemblage of people   from every racial stock of the earth whose united hearts constitute an indivisible and invincible force for the defense and succor of the downtrodden. 

It 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 for nine great national conflicts. It bears witness to the immense expansion of our national boundaries, the development of our natural resources, and the splendid structure of our civilization. It prophesies the triumph of popular government, of civic and religious liberty and of national righteousness throughout the world. 

The Flag first rose over thirteen states along the Atlantic seaboard, with a population of some three million people. Today it flies over fifty states, extending across the continent, and over great islands of the two oceans; and owe allegiance. It has been brought to this proud position by love and sacrifice. Citizens have advanced it and heroes have died for it. On February 23, 1945, members of the U.S. Marine Corps raised the flag a top Mt. Suribachi, during the Battle for Iwo Jima.   Today, the Iwo Jima Memorial, which depicts that event stands outside Arlington Nation Cemetery.   It is the sign made visible of the strong spirit that has brought liberty and prosperity to the people of America. It is the Flag of all of us alike. Let us accord it honor and loyalty. 

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Pledge of Allegiance


 

I 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.


Under the United States Code, Title 36, Chapter 10, Paragraph 172, the Pledge of Allegiance should be recited standing, facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. Uniformed personnel should render the military salute.

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flaglin.gif (1046 bytes)


Flags  copyrighted by Stephen R. Scherr. © 2000  Do not use without permission.

History of the League's POW/MIA Flag

In 1971, Mrs. Michael Hoff, an MIA wife and member of the National League of Families, recognized the need for a symbol of our POW/MIAs. Prompted by an article in the Jacksonville, Florida Times-Union, Mrs. Hoff contacted Norman Rivkees, Vice President of Annin & Company which had made a banner for the newest member of the United Nations, the People’s Republic of China, as a part of their policy to provide flags to all United Nations members states. Mrs. Hoff found Mr. Rivkees very sympathetic to the POW/MIA issue, and he, along with Annin’s advertising agency, designed a flag to represent our missing men. Following League approval, the flags were manufactured for distribution.

On March 9, 1989, an official League flag, which flew over the White House on 1988 National POW/MIA Recognition Day, was installed in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda as a result of legislation passed overwhelmingly during the 100th Congress. In a demonstration of bipartisan Congressional support, the leadership of both Houses hosted the installation ceremony.

The League’s POW/MIA flag is the only flag ever displayed in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda where it will stand as a powerful symbol of national commitment to America’s POW/MIAs until the fullest possible accounting has been achieved for U.S. personnel still missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.

On August 10, 1990, the 101st Congress passed U.S. Public Law 101-355, which recognized the League’s POW/MIA flag and designated it "as the symbol of our Nation’s concern and commitment to resolving as fully as possible the fates of Americans still prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, thus ending the uncertainty for their families and the Nation".

The importance of the League’s POW/MIA flag lies in its continued visibility, a constant reminder of the plight of America’s POW/MIAs. Other than "Old Glory", the League’s POW/MIA flag is the only flag ever to fly over the White House, having been displayed in this place of honor on National POW/MIA Recognition Day since 1982. With passage of Section 1082 of the 1998 Defense Authorization Act during the first term of the 105th Congress, the League’s POW/MIA flag will fly each year on Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, National POW/MIA Recognition Day and Veterans Day on the grounds or in the public lobbies of major military installations as designated by the Secretary of the Defense, all Federal national cemeteries, the national Korean War Veterans Memorial, the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the White House, the United States Postal Service post offices and at the official offices of the Secretaries of State, Defense and Veteran’s Affairs, and Director of the Selective Service System.

 

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This page was last updated: 01/25/2001 22:11:23

© 2001  Stephen R. Scherr

 

 

 

 

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