Flag Day, coming up Friday – midway between the solemnity of Memorial Day and sparks and sizzle of Independence Day – gives Old Glory another day to sparkle in symbolism and history as summer heats up.
Ray Ketcham, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7288 in Calabash, N.C., leads flag education classes for fifth-graders at four Brunswick County schools every winter. Rod Gragg is director of the Center for Military and Veterans Studies at Coastal Carolina University in Conway. Both men were happy to elaborate on the Stars and Stripes.
Ketcham shed light on an endeavor he shares with a crew of six to eight VFW colleagues on outings.
Gragg, who has authored various history books – such as “George Washington: An Interactive Biography” and “By the Hand of Providence: How Faith Shaped the American Revolution” – and produced a series of documentaries, also lit up when asked questions about the nation’s flag.
One of the most popular flags used by American troops bore the motto “Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God.” which reflected the Patriot American belief that the British government was suppressing God-given or “inalienable” rights, such as life, liberty and the freedom to pursue happiness. That one was also Thomas Jefferson’s personal motto.
During the siege of Boston in 1776, the Grand Union Flag was raised above George Washington’s headquarters – it was also called the Continental Flag. It featured 13 red and white stripes with the British Union flag in the upper left corner. It had been used by American naval vessels at least a year earlier, and by British ships for generations. It wasn’t used very long by Americans in the Revolution because of the British flag that was on it, but that’s probably where our flag’s red and white stripes originated.
By the way, June 14 was declared Flag Day by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, and Congress made it official in 1949 with legislation that was signed by President Harry Truman. But the date of June 14 was selected because the Continental Congress established the national flag on June 14, 1777.