Image from BergerFine Arts
Story of Our Flag as Told by Nina Barwise
At the flag ceremony this morning Miss Nina Barwise read the following history of the Stars and Stripes.
It is not generally known and comes as a surprise to many Americans to realize that the Stars and Stripes is the oldest National flag in existence. Although the colonists frequently used devices of their own, the English flag was the flag of the country for more than one hundred and fifty years.
So different were the symbols of the colonies, regiments and ships that Washington, in 1775 wrote “Please fix some flag by which our vessels may know each other.”
In 1777 Congress appointed a committee consisting of General Washington, Robert Morris and Colonel Ross, “to designate a suitable flag for the nation.”
This committee as all the world knows conferred with Mistress Betsy Ross and afterwards recommended a flag in which the stripes recently introduced were retained, but in which the crosses, the symbol of British authority, gave place to the stars which were henceforth to shine for liberty.
This committee having reported on Jun 14, 1777 in old Independence Hall, Congress adopted the following resolution: “Resolved that the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate, red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constitution. The stars to be arranged in a circle.”
Enter here the Star Spangled Banner with thirty-seven years to wait for the song that was to immortalize the name.
The flag was not changed until 1795, when two stripes and two stars were added for Vermont and Kentucky. By 1816 four more states were in the family. Realizing that there must be a limit to the stripes, it was recommended that the flag be permanently thirteen stripes, representing the thirteen original states and that a new star be added for each state, as admitted. Since then a star has been added to the flag on the Fourth of July following the admission of states to the Union.
The flag at the time of the resolution had thirteen stars. In the war of 1812 fifteen, in the Mexican war, 29, in the Civil war 35, and in the Spanish-American war 45; the number today 48.
When about to sail from Salem, Mass., in command of the big “Charles Doggett,” Captain Driver was presented with a large American flag. As it was went aloft and broken out into the air, he christened the beautiful emblem “Old Glory,” and this was the name he ever more used for it.
Ah, folks of white and scarlet; ah blue field with your silver stars! May kind eyes welcome you, willing feet follow you, strong hands defend you, warm hearts cherish you and dying lips give you their blessing.
Ours by inheritance, ours by allegiance, ours by affection; long may you float on the free winds of heaven, the emblem of liberty, the hope of the world.
Unfurl bright stripes shine forth, clear stars swing outward to the breeze.
Go bear your message to the wilds, go tell it to the seas;
That poor men sit within our shade and rich men in their pride;
That beggar boys and statemen’s sons walk ‘neath you side by side.
You guard the school house on the green, the church upon the hill;
And fold your precious blessings round the cabin by the rill.
While weary hearts from every land beneath the shining sun,
Will work and rest and home beneath the flag of Washington.
Wichita Daily Times (Wichita Falls, Texas) Jul 4, 1912
**The Flag of Washington – by F.W. Gillett
Excerpt in above (not cited by Nina) – complete poem can be found in:
Title: The American Flag in Prose, Poetry and Song