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Chapter 8

Quotations on the

MEANING AND USE OF THE FLAG

HISTORY OF THE FLAG

(Prepared by the National Americanism Commission, The American Legion, Indianapolis, Ind.)

The United States Flag 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, N. Y., on August 3, 1777. It was first under fire 3 days later in the Battle of Oriskany, August 6, 1777.

It was first 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 to God, loyalty, sincerity, justice, and truth.

The star (an ancient symbol of India, Persia, and Egypt) symbolizes dominion and sovereignty, as well as lofty 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 to posterity representing Liberty.”

In 1794, Vermont and Kentucky were admitted to the Union and the number of stars and of stripes was 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 henceforth to 13, representing the 13 original States; while a star should be added for each succeeding State. That law is the law of today.

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The name “Old Glory” was given to our National 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 Piquet, 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 a hundred million free people welded into a 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 from eight great National conflicts. It flew at Saratoga, at Yorktown, at Palo Alto, at Gettysburg, at Manila Bay, at Chateau-Thierry. 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 13 States along the Atlantic seaboard, with a population of some three million people. Today it flies over 48 States, extending across the continent, and over great islands of the two oceans;

and one hundred thirty millions owe it allegiance. It has been brought to this proud position by love and sacrifice. Citizens have advanced it and heroes have died for it. 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.

THIS LAND AND FLAG

What is the love of country for which our flag stands? Maybe it begins with love of the land itself. It is the fog rolling in with the tide at Eastport, or thru the Golden Gate and among the towers of San Francisco. It is the sun coming up behind the White Mountains, over the Green, throwing a shining glory on Lake Champlain and above the Adirondacks. It is the storied Mississippi rolling swift and muddy past St. Louis, rolling past Cairo, pouring down past the levees of New Orleans. It is lazy noontide in the pines of Carolina, it is a sea of wheat rippling in Western Kansas, it is the San Francisco peaks far north across the glowing nakedness of Arizona, it is the Grand Canyon and a little stream coming down out of a New England ridge, in which are trout.

It is men at work. It is the storm-tossed fishermen coming into Gloucester and Provincetown and Astoria. It is the farmer riding his great machine in the dust of harvest, the dairyman going to the barn before sunrise, the lineman mending the broken wire, the miner drilling for the blast. It is the servants of fire in the murky splendor of Pittsburgh, between the Allegheny and the Monongahela, the trucks rumbling thru the night, the locomotive engineer bringing the train in on time, the pilot in the clouds, the riveter running along the beam a hundred feet in air. It is the clerk in the office, the housewife doing the dishes and sending the children off to school. It is the teacher, doctor, and parson tending and helping body and soul for small reward.

It is small things remembered, the little corners of the land, the houses, the people that each one loves. We love our country because there was a little tree on a hill, and grass thereon, and a sweet valley below; because the hurdy-gurdy man came along on a sunny morning in a city street; because a beach or a farm or a lane or a house that might not seem much to others were once, for each of us, made magic. It is voices that are remembered only, no longer heard. It is parents, friends, the lazy chat of street and store and office, and the ease of mind that makes life tranquil. It is summer and winter, rain and sun and storm. These are flesh of our flesh, bone of our bone, blood of our blood, a lasting part of what we are, each of us and all of us together.

It is stories told. It is the Pilgrims dying in their first dreadful winter. It is the Minute Man standing his ground at Concord Bridge, and dying there. It is the army in rags, sick, freezing, starving at Valley Forge. It is the wagons and the men on foot going westward over Cumberland Gap, floating down the great rivers, rolling over the great plains. It is the settler hacking fiercely at the primeval forest on his new, his own lands. It is Thoreau at Walden Pond, Lincoln at Cooper Union, and Lee riding home from Appomattox. It is corruption and disgrace, answered always by men who would not let the flag lie in the dust, who have stood up in every generation to fight for the old ideals and the old rights, at risk of ruin or of life itself.

It is a great multitude of people on pilgrimage, common and ordinary people, charged with the usual human failings, yet filled with such a hope as never caught the imaginations and the hearts of any nation on earth before. The hope of liberty. The hope of justice. The hope of a land in which a man can stand straight, without fear, without rancor.

The land, the people, and the flag—the land a continent, the people of every race, the flag a symbol of what humanity may aspire to when the wars are over and the barriers are down; to these each generation must be dedicated and consecrated anew, to defend with life itself, if need be, but, above all, in friendliness, in hope, in courage, to live for.

(Reprinted from The New YORK TIMES.)

THE FLAG SPEAKS

I am whatever you make me—nothing more. But always I am all that you hope to be and have the courage to try for. I am song and fear, struggle and panic and ennobling hope. I am the day's work of the weakest man, and the largest dream of the most daring. I am the Constitution and the courts, statutes, and statute-makers, soldier and dreadnaught, drayman and street sweep, cook, counselor, and clerk. I am no more than what you believe me to be. My stars and my stripes are your dreams and your labors. For you are the makers of the flag, and it is well that you glory in the making.

FRANKLIN K. LANE. (Excerpt from address. Flag Day. 1914.)

THE FLAG-THE NATION

A thoughtful mind, when it sees a Nation's flag, sees not the flag only, but the Nation itself; and * * * he reads chiefly in the flag the Government, the principles, the truths, the history which belongs to the Nation that set it forth.

HENRY WARD BEECHER.

RESPECT THE FLAG

When you see the Stars and Stripes displayed, son, stand up and take off your hat. Somebody may titter. It is in the blood of some to deride all expression of noble sentiment. You may blaspheme in the street and stagger

drunken in public places, and the bystanders will not pay much attention to you; but if you should get down on your knees and pray to Almighty God or if you should stand bareheaded while a company of old soldiers marches by with flags to the breeze, some people will think you are showing off.

But don't you mind! When Old Glory comes along, salute, and let them think what they please! When you hear the band play "The Star-Spangled Banner" while you are in a restaurant or hotel dining-room, get up even if you rise alone; stand there and don't be ashamed of it, either!

For of all the flags since the world began there is none other so full of meaning as the Flag of this country. That piece of red, white, and blue bunting means five thousand years of struggle upward. It is the full-grown flower of ages of fighting for liberty. It is the century plant of human hope in bloom.

Your Flag stands for humanity, for an equal opportunity to all the sons of men. Of course we haven't arrived yet at that goal; there are many injustices yet among us, many senseless and cruel customs of the past still clinging to us, but the only hope of righting the wrongs of men lies in the feeling produced in our bosoms by the sight of that Flag.

Other flags mean a glorious past, this Flag—a glorious future. It is not so much the Flag of our fathers as it is the Flag of our children, and of all children's children yet unborn. It is the Flag of tomorrow. It is the signal of the “Good Time Coming." It is not the flag of your king—it is the Flag of yourself and of all your neighbors.

Don't be ashamed when your throat chokes and the tears come, as you see it flying from the masts of our ships on all the seas or floating from every flagstaff of the Republic. You will never have a worthier emotion. Reverence it as you would reverence the signature of the Deity.

Listen, son! The band is playing the National Anthem—“The StarSpangled Banner!” They have let loose Old Glory yonder. Stand up—and others will stand up with you.

FRANK CRANE,
In the New York Globe.

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CORRECT DISPLAY AND USE OF THE FLAG

Joint Resolution No. 359, approved December 22, 1942, and amended on July 9, 1953, provides as follows:

That the following codification of existing rules and customs pertaining to the display and use of the flag of the United States of America be, and it is hereby, established for the use of such civilians or civilian groups or organizations as may not be required to conform with regulations promulgated by one or more executive departments of the Government of the United States.

SEC. 2. (a) It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, the

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