Jack’s Journal: The American Flag

The Fourth of July means a lot more than fireworks, it’s a time to reflect on the history of our beautiful country.

Many of us know that there’s a certain protocol to follow when handling our countries flag, but there’s much more history behind the stories.

Jack O’Malley is learning more about our nation’s flag in this week’s Jack’s Journal.

We celebrate the birth of a nation on Independence Day. The flag, old glory, the stars and stripes, flying high and proud. A bit of history: In 1777 the Continental Congress resolved that the flag of the 13 United States should be 13 stripes, alternative red and white, and that the Union should be 13 stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation.

Up until the Civil War the flag was thought of more as a naval ensign, a convenient marker of American territory flown from government buildings. But the Civil War began a new era.

Tom Gordon from Northwest Michigan College explained these changes.

“Fort Sumter, definitely the shelling of Fort Sumter. Major Anderson had to pull down that flag and give up the fort. Took it right to New York and it was on a building in New York the entire war.”

That was when the flag began being flown by the citizens, with pride. For the first time Americans had a tangible symbol.

You might notice military uniforms, the stars are displayed to the right. It symbolizes moving forward and advancing.

At a military funeral the flag is presented to the family with these words: “on behalf of the President of the United States and a grateful nation…”

There are no laws pertaining to the flag, but there is protocol, like not letting it touch the ground and proper disposal. There is also the story of the 1908 summer Olympics when U.S. team captain and flag bearer Martin Sheridan was told to dip the flag to King Edward and Martin is quoted as saying, “this flag dips to no earthly king.” A new protocol was born.