Flag Day at I-59 Welcome Center

Published 4:05 pm Thursday, June 14, 2007

On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted the flag of the United States in Philadelphia. The resolution read:

“Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen starts, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.” A lot has happened since then.

Two hundred and thirty years later on June 14, 2007 visitors are invited to attend a flag raising ceremony at the I-59 Welcome Center. The Flag Day ceremony begins at 10 a.m. with Frank Egger raising the flag, Anthony Hales singing the National Anthem and the cake donated by Paul’s Pastry.

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George Washington said, “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 withe stripes shall go down to posterity representing Liberty.”

According to the House of Representatives’ book “Our Flag”, published in 1997, the colors of red, white and blue didn’t have any meaning at the time the flag was adopted in 1777. When the Great Seal was adopted, the colors were then given meaning and were defined with the white symbolizing purity and innocence; red meaning hardiness and valor; the blue, vigilance, perseverance and justice.

Francis Hopkinson of New Jersey was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and is commonly given credit for the stars’ shape on our flag. He also helped design the Great Seal. The House of Representatives credits him with the design of the stars on the blue field. This portion of the flag is called The Union, or the Union Jack.

When Kentucky and Vermont entered the Union, two stars and two stripes were added to the flag. It became obvious that the flag would soon become cumbersome, so Capt. Samuel C. Reid, USN suggested adding a star and leaving the stripes at 13 to represent the original colonies.

On April 4, 1818, President James Monroe signed a bill stating that a new star would be added to the blue field on the first July 4 following the new state’s admission into the union. The last star for Hawaii was added on July 4, 1960. That required a new arrangement of stars—six stars and five stars alternately.

Our flag has the nicknames Old Glory, Stars and Stripes and Star-spangled Banner.

Most school children can tell you that Francis Scott Key was a prisoner aboard a British ship when he wrote the words to our national anthem. He spoke in his home town of Frederick, Maryland.

“I saw the flag of my country waving over a city—the strength and pride of my native State—a city devoted to plunder and desolation by its assailants. I witnessed the preparation for its assaults. I saw the array of its enemies as they advanced to the attack. I heard the sound of battle; the noise of the conflict fell upon my listening ear, and told me that ‘the brave and the free’ had met the invaders,” Key told the audience.

The publication “Our Flag” also describes how June 14 became the national Flag Day:

“The Stars and Stripes first flew in a Flag Day celebration in Hartford, Conn. in 1861, during the first summer of the Civil War. The first national observance of Flag Day occurred June 14, 1877, the centennial of the original flag resolution.

“By the mid 1890s the observance of Flag Day n June 14 was a popular event. Mayors and governors began to issue proclamations in their jurisdictions to celebrate this event.”

It goes on to say that through the years Americans loved celebrating and honoring our flag on Flag Day which instilled a deep sense of patriotism in the populace. School children became enthusiastic about this day and all its activities.

When President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed in 1916 that June 14 would be the day the nation observed Flag Day, it took several more years, until 1949, that Congress made a resolution making this day “a permanent observance” and it was signed into law by President Harry Truman.

It is not celebrated as a Federal holiday, but it continues to be a day that Americans honor Old Glory and the birthright it portrays.