Paying respect to the U.S. Flag: Fun facts about the U.S. Flag

 

Washington Co., WI – All this week as we approach July 4 we’re focusing on the U.S. flag – passing along a little bit of history, some flag etiquette and trivia.

She may have sewn quite a few in her day, but there is no actual evidence Betsy Ross was the person responsible for the design of the US Flag. In fact, Betsy’s name didn’t even come up in conjunction with the deed until 1876, forty years after her death. The first person to have made that claim publicly was New Jersey Congressman Francis Hopkinson in 1780, who had hoped (in vain) to earn a “quarter cask of the public wine” for his efforts. Apparently, he didn’t take wampum.

Upon welcoming Vermont and Kentucky—states 14 and 15—into the union, a new version of the flag was created that had 15 stars and 15 stripes. As the U.S. continued to add new states, there was concern about having to continually add additional stripes. The solution: revert to 13 to represent the original 13 colonies, and let the stars do the heavy lifting.

The flag that flew at Ft. McHenry during the War of 1812, immortalized in Francis Scott Key’s tune, is one of the few remaining specimens of a 15-star, 15-bar flag. What’s left of it is on permanent display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

We say “what’s left of it” because the flag in question was a victim of “souveniring,” a once-common practice where sections from flags were snipped off and sold as mementos. The 2” x 5” swatch in question was taken from the flag in the 1800s.

The proposed constitutional amendment would have prohibited not only burning the flag (for political reasons) but printing it on disposable items such as t-shirts or napkins. The amendment fell one vote short in the Senate.

Fun facts about the U.S. flag courtesy Jens T Carstensen.

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