President Trump has proclaimed today, June 14, as National Flag Day and this entire week as National Flag Week. It is an excellent time to review the facts, history and meaning of the American flag.
While tradition holds that Betsy Ross of Philadelphia sewed the first U.S. flag, it has not been firmly documented if this is fact or fiction. But it is known Betsy Ross was a seamstress and knew George Washington and had sewn buttons for him. She was also the niece of George Ross of Delaware, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Betsy Ross is also said to have worshiped at the same church as Washington in an adjacent pew.
It was on June 14, 1777, that the Continental Congress adopted a resolution authorizing the general design of the U.S. flag. It stated, "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 resolution did not designate how the stars were to be arranged, but tradition holds it was Washington who directed Betsy Ross, in a sketch he had drawn, to put them in a circle because the congressmen could not agree on an arrangement.
After the War For American Independence, and after two more states joined the Union, President Washington signed the Flag Act of Jan. 13, 1794, providing for 15 stars and 15 stripes, which remained the pattern until 1818.
Louisiana was the 18th state to join the Union, April 30, 1812, but didn't get its star added to the flag until 1818, when the Flag Act of that year provided for one new star to be put in the Union as new states joined, but limited the number of stripes to 13 representing the original 13 states.
But what is the meaning of our national flag? In 1977, the U.S. House of Representatives explained that "the star is a symbol of the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial; the stripe is symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun."
In 1782, however, the Great Seal of the United States revealed the meaning of the "Red, White and Blue." White symbolizes purity and innocence. Red stands for hardiness and valor, while blue signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice.
Take time to salute the flag today, and reverence those who have shed their blood for the flag and our freedom during the years it has flown over our nation.