Today is Flag Day, a celebration of Old Glory, a nickname that originated with a 19th century sea captain named William Driver who flew a weathered U.S. flag on his ship throughout his career and declared, “It has ever been my staunch companion and protection. Savages and heathens, lowly and oppressed, hailed and welcomed it at the far end of the wide world. Then, why should it not be called Old Glory?”
On June 14, 1777 the 2nd Continental Congress passed the Flag Resolution, which read: “Resolved, 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.”
Betsy Ross’ authorship of the first flag has never been settled. The story first appeared during the nation’s bicentennial in 1876, presented by her grandson, but has been refuted by historians.
In 1812 the American flag flying atop Fort McHenry in Baltimore inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star Spangled Banner poem which became the national anthem after it was set to music.
We have not had a change to the flag for 58 years. After Alaska and Hawaii were admitted the flag has reflected nine rows of white stars to represent the 50 states, alternating six and five stars in each row. There are seven red stripes and six white.
Joe Parish, President of Capitol Flag Company in Houston, has a special fondness for Old Glory. “In my mind the best flag in the world for the greatest country in the world. I would like to see more people flying it, but it’s a personal preference. Some people are more patriotic than others.”
The idea of having a special day to honor the American flag began in 1889 with a kindergarten teacher, George Balch, in New York City, and was independently celebrated in Pennsylvania in 1893.
Flag Day was officially established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30th in 1916 but was not widely celebrated until 1949 when President Truman signed an Act of Congress designation June 14th as National Flag Day.