Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Foto - March 13, 2009

This is obviously not a picture that I took, but one that I thought held some great history. Looking at this American flag, what looks different, other than the number of stars of course? Drum roll....It also has 15 stripes.

As we are taught in school, the stars signify the states of the union...one for each state, so, since the original 13 states entered the union, the flag has had anywhere from 13 stars up to it's current 50 stars. But, what many don't know, is that there haven't always been 13 stripes which we are taught represent the original thirteen colonies. When Kentucky and Vermont became states, Congress authorized two additional stars and two additional stripes to be added to the national ensign. This practice was not carried over to the next flag that was designated on July 4, 1818 when IN, LA, MS, OH and TN became states...imagine the U.S. flag, at that time, having 20 stripes! And now it would have had 50 stripes! Good reason to stick with 13!

This is the flag that flew over our country from 1795-1818. It flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, and inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Defence of Ft. McHenry", a poem at the time. The four verse poem was eventually retitled "The Star Spangled Banner" and became our national anthem.

All in all, this flag, sometimes referred to as the "Star Spangled Banner Flag", flew over our country the third longest period of time in the United States's short history - 23 years. This is only bettered by our current 50 star flag which we've had for 49 years come July 4, 2009, and the 48 star flag that flew 47 years from 1912-1959. When I think about that, I imagine that the 48 star flag is the one that most of our past war enemies are familiar with...WWI, WWII and The Korean War being the bigger ones.

You could learn a lot more about the flag by going to wikipedia's page on The American Flag. I spent hours there and on subsequent links! Interesting stuff...and for those who don't know all four verses of the Star Spangled Banner...here they are, and remember that this poem originally, was written by a man who was watching the battle from afar, and saw the giant garrison flag of the fort still flying over the battlefield when morning dawned, even after such a fierce battle...gives it a little different perspective!

O! say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming.
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming.
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

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