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Long may it wave.

It has taken many forms and led Americans into battle throughout the world. Under it, men and women have sacrificed life and limb to secure "one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." We marvel at its beauty in a breeze and it drapes the caskets of our fallen defenders. It is the flag of the United States of America--the standard of freedom.

When Americans went to tear against England for their independence, a variety of flags were used as standards of military units, ships, Communities, and colonies, among them the legendary "Don't Tread on Me" flag. The result made rallying around the flag confusing and possibly dangerous, if compatriots mistook you for the English or their allies.

General George Washington organized the Continental Army under the Continental Colors in January 1776. This first unofficial, standardized, national flag was the first red and white, 13-stripe flag. It was further emblazoned with the British Union Jack in the upper left corner, and continued in use until June 14, 1777, when the Continental Congress adopted a resolution establishing the first U.S. National Flag. This flag consisted of 13 alternating red and white stripes and a blue canton with 13 white stars. June 14 is flow recognized as flag Day nationally.

The origin of the flag is clouded by lack of documentation, and there are a number of unproven stories about its origin. Some historians believe the first flag was sewn by Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia seamstress, while most feel the design more likely came from Francis Hopkinson, a New Jersey delegate to the Continental Congress, who signed the Declaration of Independence, and was a recognized designer. A record was discovered indicating Mr. Hopkinson sent a bill for $2,700 to Congress for currency designs, design for the Great Seal of the United States, a treasury seal, and a design for the flag.

It is believed that B.J. Cigrand, a schoolteacher from Fredonia, Wis., originated the first annual day specifically set aside to celebrate the flag. He arranged the event for his pupils, and it was conducted on June 14, 1885, the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes by the Continental Congress. Soon other states, communities and groups began commemorating the flag (not all on June 14), but it was not nationally recognized until 1949, when President Truman proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day. Since that time, presidents yearly proclaim commemoration of the flag on June 14 and encourage Americans to display it.

Today, at the start of each school day, children rise by their desks, place their right hand over their hearts and recite, "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." As they utter those words known to all, many of their older brothers and sisters, and mothers and fathers stand ready to defend freedom throughout the world under the red, white, and blue standard of our nation. They know where the flag of the United States flies, freedom flourishes.

On June 14, fly our national flag proudly in support of its defenders and freedom-loving people throughout the world.

To learn more about how to honor and display the flag of the United States of America, request an American Flag brochure from the DAV by calling, toll-free, 1-877-426-2838 or email your request to feedback@davmail.org.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Flag Day 2003, history
Author:Hall, Jim
Publication:DAV Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2003
Words:578
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