Today is flag day in the United States, and the celebration will for the first time be carried to foreign shores, for wherever our fighters are, on the battlefronts of France as well as in England, there was rejoicing and celebration. The day was, as usual, marked by special exercises in the public schools and other institutions. The Stars and Stripes became the official flag of the United States 141 years ago today, June 14, 1777.
Altho special flags existed in some of the colonies prior to the American Revolution, it was the red, white and blue banner of England that was carried to victory in the colonial wars against Spain, France and the Indians. Most of the early flags of the colonies were patterned after the Union Jack of the mother country. The grand union flag, raised at Cambridge in 1776, was the first used by the American army that had thirteen alternate red and white stripes, the number symbolic of the thirteen colonies.
Many flags were proposed during the Revolution and the early days of the republic. One of them, designed by Thomas Paine, was composed of all the colors of the rainbow, symbolizing peace. The stars and stripes design, however, was officially adopted on June 14, 1777. Later, with the admission of new states, the number of stars on the blue field was gradually increased, and today there are forty-eight in all.
It is probable that the first flag was carried by the Saracens in their battles with the Crusaders, the latter adopting the idea, which thus spread all over Europe. Long before that there had been national standards, however, as the ancient Egyptians carried before their hosts the figure of a sacred animal on a spear. A stuffed cat impaled on a stick was the forerunner of the banners now in use. In the days of the old Persian empire a blacksmith’s apron was carried aloft at the head of the army, while the standard of the Turks was a horse’ tail.
Today a flag is the most revered of all inanimate objects, and thousands are willing to die that their flag may wave forever.
Pictured: An associated photo of a depiction of John Adams’ resolution before Congress mandating a flag to represent the United States in 1777.