Last Modified: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 6:06 PM
Today, June 14, is National Flag Day, a day to honor our national symbol and all the good things for which it stands.
Old Glory came into existence on June 14, 1777 when Congress adopted a flag to represent the infant United States of America, then less than one-year-old. The law passed was as follows: “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 constellation.”
The law didn’t give the fine details, such as the arrangement of the stars — should they be arranged in a circle, in rows, in the shape of a cross? Not surprisingly, there were a wide variety of of designs that were used before the flag design we know today became the standard.
Also, what about how the flag should be changed when a new state was admitted to the Union? At first they added one new star and one new stripe for the first two new states added, Vermont in 1791 and Kentucky in 1792. That made the flag 15 stars and 15 stripes.
It soon became obvious that it would be unfeasible to add a new stripe for every new state, so the flag was unchanged until 1818 when the Flag Act of that year set the standard as adding a new star for each new state, but limiting the number of stripes to 13 to represent the original 13 states.
Because of this, when Louisiana joined the Union April 30, 1812 as the 18th state, it didn’t receive its 18th star on the flag until 1818.
According to the National Flag Day Foundation, the “Father of Flag Day” is Bernard J. Cigrand, a Wisconsin school teacher and dentist who made the first public National Flag Day proposal in 1886 in an article he wrote for the Chicago Argus newspaper.
The idea caught on and states began holding Flag Day ceremonies and in 1916 President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation making Flag Day an annual national event. In 1949, President Harry S. Truman signed a bill that made June 14, National Flag Day, the law of the land.
Since this year is the Bicentennial of Louisiana statehood, a little information on our state flag may be of interest also.
The mother pelican tearing her breast to feed her young is an ancient Christian symbol of self-sacrificing love. In 1812 that symbol began appearing on flags in the state and on December 23, 1813, that the Louisiana Legislature gave Governor William C. C. Claiborne the authority to adopt a symbol to represent the state government. Claiborne chose the pelican feeding her young.
It wasn’t until July 1, 1912 that the Louisiana Legislature officially adopted the pelican flag with the motto “Union, Justice, Confidence,” for the state flag.
And don’t forget, if you have an American flag, fly it today and every day.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.