Why is the flag such a big deal?
Some people wonder why our US Flag is so special, and why people make such a big deal about the care and use of it. Although there are many reasons that our flag is special, perhaps the most important reason is that it is ours. That may sound silly, but before 1777 (when the first official US flag was created through a resolution of the Continental Congress) common people could not own (much less fly) a flag. Flags were only owned by dictators and monarchs that used them to show property ownership. Even today in some countries, there are different flags for the the rulers and the people. There are still some countries where citizens do not have the right to own or fly the national flag. We Americans are very lucky -- so fly your flag with pride!
Do you know that the US Flag is alive?
Yes, it's true! The U.S. Code, Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 8(j) says "The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing."
Betsy Ross designed and sewed the first flag, right?
Well....probably not. Betsy Ross and the legend of the first flag date back to 1970, almost a hundred years after the creation of the first flag, when her grandson claimed that his grandmother created the first American flag. He claimed that Betsy Ross was approached by George Washington in 1776, who had a rough sketch of the flag. He further claimed that she took this sketch, modified it, and sewed the first American flag. Whether or not this meeting ever took place, we do know that the first flag was sewed more than a year later. It is true that Betsy Ross was a superb flag maker, and she continues to be one of the most famous early Americans. One more thing...you know that first American flag with the thirteen stars in a circle? Well, that flag is officially called the 'Betsy Ross Flag'. How about that!
So who did design the first American flag?
Most historians believe that it was Francis Hopkinson, who was also a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Would you give the stars a 'B-"?
The stars on our flag represent the fifty states in our union. You may have noticed that the stars are aligned in a specific pattern, so that it looks nice and not all cluttered. Well, that didn't just happen by chance. In 1949, when Alaska and Hawaii became states, the star field had to be completely redesigned (before it was 48 stars...pretty easy to line up). And who do you think could tackle such a hard job? Believe it or not, it was a high school student from Ohio, named Robert Heft. He spent twelve and a half hours one weekend designing a new arrangement for a class project at school. He sewed the 50 stars in the pattern he created, and when he turned in his work, he received a B minus! His teacher even told him that if he could get Congress to accept his design, that she would raise his grade. Wow, she was tough! Well, Robert sent his flag to his Congressman and much to his surprise, it became the official flag of the United States! I wonder what she changed his grade to?
The colors of the flag are special, too!
You may think that just any old red, white, and blue will do for Old Glory, but you would be wrong! It is true that the white and blue are common colors, but did you know that the red is a very specific shade of red? As a matter of fact, the red in our flag is only produced for our flag...not for anything else! Now that's special.
Have you ever noticed the honor guard pays meticulous attention to correctly folding the American flag 13 times?
You probably thought it was to symbolize the original 13 colonies but we learn something new every day!
The 1st fold of our flag is a symbol of life.
The 2nd fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.
The 3rd fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the denfense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.
The 4th fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.
The 5th fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, "Our Country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong."
The 6th fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.
The 7th fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.
The 8th fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day.
The 9th fold is a tribute to womanhood, and Mothers. For it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.
The 10th fold is a tribute to the frather, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.
The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies in the Hebrews eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in the Christians eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.
The 13th fold, or when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of our nations motto, "In God We Trust."
After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington, and the Sailors and Marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the rights, privileges and freedoms we enjoy today.
There are some traditions and ways of doing things that have important deep meanings. In the future, when you see flags folded, now you will know why.
Please share this symbol of "Liberty and Freedom" with all of your friends and loved one.
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away...