Monday, June 14, 2010

Flag Day

The painting above, The Birth of Old Glory, was created around 1917 by Edward Percy Moran to depict the presentation of the first American flag to George Washington by Betsy Ross of Philadelphia in 1776. Research by the Smithsonian Institution, however, has revealed that this event probably never occurred. Someone undoubtedly made the first American flag. It just wasn’t Betsy Ross. That is a myth. But on this day in 1777, Congress adopted the new flag as the official emblem of the new nation.

By the War of 1812, several more states had been added to the Union: Vermont, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, and Louisiana. Even though there were 18 states, the U.S. flag contained 15 stars and fifteen stripes at that time. It had become obvious that adding a new star and a new stripe every time a state was added would not work. This 15-star, 15-stripe version is the flag that 35-year-old amateur poet Francis Scott Key witnessed during the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay in 1814. His poem, originally titled “Defence of Fort McHenry,” was set to the tune of ”To Anacreon in Heaven,” a popular British drinking song written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a men’s social club in London. Later, the title was changed to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The tune and Key’s poem did not become the official national anthem of the United States until 1931.

Today, the U.S. flag has 13 stripes to represent the original 13 colonies and 50 stars, one for each state.

Although traditionally only the first verse of the anthem is sung, some of the other verses are definitely worth a listen.

(Click here to hear an expanded version of “The Star-Spangled Banner”)

Note. If you enjoyed this post, you may also like this one.


  1. I note that despite what you and the Smithsonian may say, the relatives of Betsy Ross are still making those claims - claims which may be tied into tourist fees being charged for a quick tour around her house. Oh I'm so cynical.

    Anyway happy Flag Day, Bob, if that is indeed what is said today in the (former) Colonies.

  2. Thanks, Ian. I am the only person I have ever heard say "Happy Flag Day" and I also say things like "Happy Bastille Day" and "Happy Texas Independence Day" and "Happy St. Swithin's Day"....

    Many people think I am strange, but what do they know???

  3. So often when I am down at my local British pub we sing ”To Anacreon in Heaven" in unison as we quaff our pints of ale and practise our Dick Van Dyke English accents... "Fency annava point Merry Poppings?"

    Verification Word > botfat.... See much of that in Georgia?

  4. Gee, Bob, I wouldn't have even known it was Flag Day. Putz left the following at my place, and I can't make sense of it but thought that maybe you could.

    "...rhymes with plauge>>bob brague>>>that quad{ me you jinks and sis} came to me and stayed[TALKING ABOUT JUST SIS}>>>i have so much personal charm that you just don't have bob>>sorry"

  5. vexillology \vek-suh-LAH-luh-jee\\ noun: the study of flags

    Example Sentence: Bob first got interested in vexillology as a child after coming down with the plague following a class visit to a museum with a large collection of rare flags.

  6. Hey, Snow! I already knew the word vexillology but maybe you have enlightened a few of my readers.

    Regarding Putz, one can never be quite sure of anything when dealing with Mr. David Barlow of Ephraim, Utah, but he seems to think that, blogworld-wise, we are all omniscient, omnipresent. I can't speak for omnibenevolent and omnipotent. He discovered last year that he, Sissy (a woman in Tennessee), jinksy (a woman in Havant, England), and I are all about the same age and he promptly dubbed us twins, quadruplets, whatever. Sissy became angry at something I wrote on my blog and systematically removed all of her comments from my blogposts. She still reads Putz, as do I sometimes, when I can decipher what the heck he is talking about and have eaten my Wheaties. You are also in his age group, so maybe he will open up membership in his little club to you and turn us into quintuplets. (Translation of everything in this paragraph after the words "Regarding Putz": Beats me.)

    My verification word is merstsi, as in "His merstsi endures forever."

    Perhaps a little of Putz is rubbing off on me.

  7. YP, I detect that your two index fingers became confused when you typed the word "annava" and that you meant "avvana"....

    Are you saying you blokes don't (a) sing "To Anacreon in Heaven" in unison or otherwise down at your local British pub or (b) practise your Dick Van Dyke English accents??? I find both of these claims hard to believe.

  8. I'm not surprised you knew the word I brought over--I would have been surprised though if you hadn't.

    "Sissy became angry at something I wrote on my blog and systematically removed all of her comment"

    Look at the bright side. If you were married to her, she would have had to kill you because how else could she have so completely disentangled from you.

    I know what you mean about Putz, yet he had commented quite reasonably earlier in response to the same post. I visit him from time to time, but I had no idea he visited me as well.

  9. I've had my vocabulary expanded again, as so often happens when I visit here. Thanks, Snowbrush and RWP.