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Old Glory, long may it wave

Published July 02. 2011 09:02AM

On Monday, our nation will celebrate the 235th anniversary of the day we declared our independence.

If it wasn't for those brave men, who like many of our soldiers today, believed that our freedom was worth standing up and fighting for, who knows where we would be now.

So today, I want to share with you some interesting history that I learned about "Old Glory." This symbol of our country has flown proudly through countless wars and conflicts in far off lands; as well as terroristic attacks on American soil, and draped hundreds of thousands of caskets of brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice so future generations could live freely.

The American flag, with its symbolic red, white and blue colors and stars and stripes, is the most recognizable flag for Americans.

We see this flag flying high on mountains, in front of the state buildings, in classrooms, and at stadiums, but do we really know how "Old Glory" came to be?

As I read the history of the American flag on the website, I learned that the most notable circle of stars flag, sewn by Betsy Ross, was not the actual "first official flag of the United States."

This interesting tidbit piqued my interest because I always thought that the story of George Washington asking Mrs. Ross to make the flag was fact, when in fact, there is no concrete evidence to fully support it.

According to, the first official United States flag was another 13-star flag design similar in style and colors. The 13 white stars, sewn in staggered lines on a blue background; as well as 13 red and white stripes, each representing the first 13 colonies of the United States was believed to have been designed by New Jersey Congressman Francis Hopkinson.

This flag became the official flag on June 14, 1777. During the 18 years it flew as the official American flag, only George Washington served under it as president.

Another interesting fact I found was that the second official American flag is also known as the Star Spangled Banner flag. The reason behind its nickname is because this particular flag was described during Francis Scott Key's original 1814 version of the Star Spangled Banner, which is his recount of the 1812 British bombardment of Fort McHenry. It is also the only flag to be made with 15 tilted white stars, as well as 15 stripes.

Did you know that since 1777, a total of 27 versions of our country's flag have represented the United States both on American and foreign soil? I didn't.

According to, each flag that was created after 1818, when the Star Spangled Banner flag was retired, used the 13-stripe pattern with staggered lines of stars that we are familiar with today. This is due to the Flag Act of 1818, which specified that the American flag will remain only 13 stripes for the original colonies and will include one star for every state in the country.

After learning about the history of the flag that I thought I knew more about, I was also surprised to learn that the red, white and blue colors, actually had no meaning behind the color choices back in 1777.

It was not until June 20, 1782, when the Continental Congress adopted the Great Seal, that specified meanings to each of the colors that comprise the flag were described. At the time, the Great Seal, which can be found on the back of the $1 bill, used red, white, and blue in the design.

According to, an excerpt in the book "Our Flag," published in 1989 by the House of Representatives, explains that "The colors red, white, and blue did not have meanings for The Stars and Stripes when it was adopted in 1777. However, the colors in the Great Seal did have specific meanings. Charles Thompson, Secretary of the Continental Congress, reporting to Congress on the Seal, stated: 'The colors of the pales (the vertical stripes) are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness and valour, and Blue, the color of the Chief (the broad band above the stripes) signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice.'"

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