Sunday, June 14, 2009
On this day in 1777 the Continental Congress adopted this resolution: "Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation."
As for the colors, white stands for purity and innocence; red, for hardiness and valor; blue for vigilance, perseverance and justice. A new star is added on the 4th of July following the admission of a new state. Alaska, admitted on January 3rd, 1959, had it's star added on July 4th of that year. Hawaii, admitted on August 21st, 1959, had to wait until July 4th, 1960. I remember when the flag went from 49 to 50 stars.
In 1916 President Wilson issued a proclamation asking for June 14th to be observed as National Flag Day. Again, in 1927, President Coolidge asked for the same thing. But it wasn’t until August 3, 1949, that Congress finally got it's act in gear and approved a national observance to be called Flag Day. President Harry Truman signed it into law.
You can learn more about Flag Day here. Go here to learn more about the evolution of the flag.
Saint Eustatius, at the time a Dutch island, claims to be the first place to recognize the flag as representing a sovereign state. "An American merchantman called at Fort Oranje sometime during 1775 or 1776, and the battery at the Fort fired the standard salute due to non-Dutch vessels entering a Dutch port." The date seems early. However, there were many versions of the flag flown before a final design was agreed upon.
A similar thing is said to have happened on St. Criox in the Virgin Islands, which was then own by Denmark. Whether it was same ship or a different one; the same year or later, I don't know. What is neat is that the United States was first recognized as an independent sovereign country by two tiny islands in the Caribbean.
Happy Flag Day!