Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Happy Flag Day - June 14

I never knew why June 14 is Flag Day. On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress adopted the flag design: 13 stripes for the 13 original colonies and 13 stars in a new constellation on a blue field in the upper left quadrant. Betsy Ross is credited with sewing the first American flag, in 1776. That evolved into the current stars and stripes.

Library of Congress Today in History 6/14/06 link
I love the Library of Congress Memory links. They include links to beautiful historic prints and photographs, journals of the Continental Congress, presidential proclamations associated with the day, images of letters, including one by a 10 year old child in Pennsylvania explaining why he would not salute the flag -- it was against his religion. This is where I got the beautiful print decorating this essay: Birth of Old Glory. Excellent site!

Betsy Ross Historylink
Nice time line and list of historical events, including statutes and judicial decisions relating to flag and pledge of allegiance issues.

U.S. Flag Day Org link
Has a nice history and lots and lots of flags, including battle flags and state flags in case you want those, too. A military orientation, with FAQs answering common questions.

I grew up during the time when Viet Nam War protesters burned the flag, as well as their draft cards. All my life, I have listened to the angry give and take of my fellow Americans on the topic of flag desecration and what it stands for. To me, one of the great things the American flag stands for is the right to dissent, to argue vigorously, even with our own government. There are not many countries where you can do that with any sort of impunity.

Apparently here, as in some times in the past, you can't do all that much protesting with complete impunity, but the government does not break down your door and haul you off to the gulag for marching and telling them to get the hell out of Iraq. At least not yet. It is a concept to cherish, and one to fight for.

That is what the American flag means to me.

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