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…Today is Flag Day in the United States of America, a day set aside by many* to honor our nation’s standard.  

A day?

Really, shouldn’t everyday be Flag Day?

Every nation has a flag, many recognizable, but few out there are as easily determined as ours.

The Stars and Stripes

Yeah, sure, the Union Jack and the Canadian Maple Leaf are way UP there on the list of notables, but, and I’ll admit I’m biased, ours stands out!

The US Flag has an interesting history, and possibly an intersting mythology as well.

The Field of Blue holds 50 five pointed stars representing the individual states in our union.  The Red and White Stripes represent the original 13 Colonies that formed the fledgling nation 235 years ago.

Francis Hopkinson is credited with design of the first american flag. 

 

Francis Hopkinson

 

Francis was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and was from New Jersey.  Hopkinson claimed to have designed the official “first flag” of the United States and sought compensation from Congress. Congress refused on the pretext that many people were involved in the flag’s design, and that Hopkinson was already paid as a public servant.  He was a judge.

His flag had six pointed stars which were placed on the Field of Blue in a quincuncial pattern, called such because it is based on the repetition of a motif of five units.  But looking at it made folks think of the Union Jack because the pattern reminded them of the St. Andrew’s and St. George’s crosses used in England.

Enter Betsy Ross. 

Most historians discredit the story that Betsy sewed the “first” flag and gave it to George Washington, Robert Morris, and her husband’s uncle, George Ross.  The story came UP nearly a hundred years after the event was supposed to have happened.  Her grandson told the story, and it was published in Harper’s

The story goes that Betsy showed George how she was able to cut a five point star with a single snip by folding the fabric correctly.  George was wowed by the trick, liked the look, and accepted Ms. Ross’ flag over any other.

Now, Betsy Ross was a flag maker, and it is known that she made flags for ships before, during, and afer the war.

Founding Mothers were few and far between in 1870 when the Betsy Ross story broke, and the readers of Harper’s were ready for heroines.

So, Betsy’s legend became fact and even appeared in history books.

Betsy was married three times.  Her first husband was John Ross, he died in the Revolutionary War when a gunpowder supply blew UP.  Betsy took over his UPholstry business, continued to make flags for the State of Pennsylvania, and married again.

Her second husband died after his ship was captured and he was taken prisoner by the Redcoats.

A two time war widow, Betsy wed again when she met John Claypoole a fellow prisoner of her second husband Joseph Ashburn.  That one lasted until his death from a long illness in 1817.

Unlucky in love, Betsy did go on to be imortalized in the American Historical Panorama. 

Betsy Ross presents the Flag to Washington

Although it is doubtful that Betsy Ross made the  first flag, she does represent the woman of the American Revolution well.  The realities of war included, widowhood, single-motherhood, the management of property and family alone, disruption, tragedy, and a hasty remarriage for ecomonic reasons.

So, regardless of who designed it, sewed it, or created it, or how much our political leaders embarrass us, or how stupid they sound on the issues at hand, honor the Flag today and everyday.  Millions of men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend it. 

It represents us and the US worldwide!

 

Only the State of Pennsylvania holds Flag Day as an official State Holiday..afterall, Betsy was a Pennsylvanian!

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