Kimberly Bloom Jackson: Remembering Old Glory

As the NFL continues to dig their knees into political Astroturf, Americans continue to tune out.  Even the most diehard fans get riled up when they witness disrespect shown toward our flag and, ultimately, to the men and women who have sacrificed dearly to preserve the very freedom that the NFL has flourished under.

But do you know the fascinating history behind how our great symbol of freedom came to be?  You just might be surprised.

For more than a year after our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, the newly formed United States still didn’t have an official flag. 

Finally, on June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed a “Flag Resolution” that declared: “Resolved, That the flag of the [thirteen] United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white: that the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation” (p. 464, Journals of the Continental Congress, Volume 8).  This new flag became the first definitive national symbol of our country, representing the 13 former colonies—now the United States—Massachusetts, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Georgia, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maryland.

Although Congress gave some overall specifics on what the flag should look like, it left open details of its final design.  Soon, someone took the initiative to make a flag with the stars arranged in a perfect circle, symbolizing the powerful unity between the new states. This is sometimes called the Betsy Ross flag because, according to legend, it was Ross who sewed the first flag—affectionately known as “stars and stripes”—for George Washington to use as a motivating symbol for American soldiers in the Revolutionary War. 

Later, in 1831, sea Captain William Driver of Salem, Massachusetts was given a homemade American flag that he proudly flew atop his ship’s mast. He nicknamed the weathered flag “Old Glory.”  The name became so well known that during the American Civil War Confederates felt duty bound to confiscate and destroy Driver’s flag.  By this time, Driver was living in Nashville, Tennessee where his home was frequently searched, but no flag was ever found.  Driver had hidden the flag from everyone, including his own family who sympathized with the south.  Little did anyone know, he had hidden the flag by sewing it into the underside of his bedcover.  In the end, the plot to seize the flag failed, and when Union troops finally occupied Nashville in 1862, Captain Driver took his beloved Old Glory out of hiding and, with the military’s blessing, flew it high over the state capitol.

But how did Flag Day come to be?  Interestingly, in 1885, some 108 years after the Flag Resolution was passed, a 19-year-old Wisconsin school teacher named Bernard John Cigrand inspired his students at Stony Hill School to celebrate June 14 as “Flag Birthday.”  According to the Congressional Record, what we call “Flag Day” is believed to have originated with Mr. Cigrand, a teacher who cared enough to instill in his students a great appreciation for the American flag as a symbol of our God-given freedom.

Thanks to Cigrand, children across America have enjoyed Flag Day celebrations ever since.  In fact, did you know that in 1894 over 300,000 students turned out to celebrate June 14 with their small flags and patriotic songs throughout many of Chicago’s city parks?  This became a tradition of Chicago public schools.

Times sure have changed haven’t they?  Today, there never seems to be a shortage of news stories about a school or university mired in an anti-American flag controversy.  In fact, it’s all the rage to call for a ban of the flag in the name of “inclusiveness.”  At the University of California, Irvine at least 60 professors reportedly signed a petition in support of their cultural Marxist protégés who wanted to ban Old Glory because they felt it “contributes to racism and xenophobia.”

Instead of imparting knowledge about America’s extraordinary founding principles that have given rise to the freest and most prosperous nation on earth, these tenured radicals actually think that socially engineered “inclusiveness” and “diversity” are greater virtues than liberty itself.  Well, as Forest Gump said, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

Luckily for us liberty lovers, we know better.  So as we fly our flags this year in celebration of Flag Day, let us not forget to remember the greatness of America’s founding, those who came before us that gave the ultimate sacrifice to defend it, and the historical significance of June 14.

Happy American Flag Day!

This article was originally published at American Thinker.

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