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I am the Flag
by Ruth Apperson Rous

I am the flag of the United States of America.
I was born on June 14, 1777, in Philadelphia.
There the Continental Congress adopted my stars and stripes as the national flag.
My thirteen stripes alternating red and white, with a union of thirteen white stars in a field of blue, represented a new constellation, a new nation dedicated to the personal and religious liberty of mankind.
Today fifty stars signal from my union, one for each of the fifty sovereign states in the greatest constitutional republic the world has ever known.
My colors symbolize the patriotic ideals and spiritual qualities of the citizens of my country.
My red stripes proclaim the fearless courage and integrity of American men and boys and the self-sacrifice and devotion of American mothers and daughters.
My white stripes stand for liberty and equality for all.
My blue is the blue of heaven, loyalty, and faith.
I represent these eternal principles: liberty, justice, and humanity.
I embody American freedom: freedom of speech, religion, assembly, the press, and the sanctity of the home.
I typify that indomitable spirit of determination brought to my land by Christopher Columbus and by all my forefathers - the Pilgrims, Puritans, settlers at James town and Plymouth.
I am as old as my nation.
I am a living symbol of my nation's law: the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights.
I voice Abraham Lincoln's philosophy: "A government of the people, by the people,for the people."
I stand guard over my nation's schools, the seedbed of good citizenship and true patriotism.
I am displayed in every schoolroom throughout my nation; every schoolyard has a flag pole for my display.
Daily thousands upon thousands of boys and girls pledge their allegiance to me and my country.
I have my own law—Public Law 829, "The Flag Code" - which definitely states my correct use and display for all occasions and situations.
I have my special day, Flag Day. June 14 is set aside to honor my birth.
Americans, I am the sacred emblem of your country. I symbolize your birthright, your heritage of liberty purchased with blood and sorrow.
I am your title deed of freedom, which is yours to enjoy and hold in trust for posterity.
If you fail to keep this sacred trust inviolate, if I am nullified and destroyed, you and your children will become slaves to dictators and despots.
Eternal vigilance is your price of freedom.
As you see me silhouetted against the peaceful skies of my country, remind yourself that I am the flag of your country, that I stand for what you are - no more, no less.
Guard me well, lest your freedom perish from the earth.
Dedicate your lives to those principles for which I stand: "One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
I was created in freedom. I made my first appearance in a battle for human liberty.
God grant that I may spend eternity in my "land of the free and the home of the brave" and that I shall ever be known as "Old Glory," the flag of the United States of America.

Meaning of the U. S. Flag Ceremony

The first fold of our flag is the symbol of life

The second fold is a symbol of our belief in the eternal life

The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks who gave a portion of life for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world

The fourth fold represents our weaker nature; for peace as American citizens trusting in god, it is to him we turn in times of peace as well as in times of war for his divine guidance

The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Steven Decatur.... "Our country, in dealing with the other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country right or wrong"

The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is our hearts that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which is stands, one nation, under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all

The seventh fold is a tribute to our armed forces, for it is through the armed forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic

The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day

The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood, for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great have been molded

The tenth fold is a tribute to father, for he, too, has given of his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since she was first born

The eleventh fold, is in the eyes of the Hebrew citizen, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

The twelfth fold, in the eyes of the Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, god the father, the son and the holy spirit.

The thirteenth and final fold signified the original 13 colonies upon which this great nation was founded

We fold from the stripes to the stars, for, whereas the stripes represent the thirteen original colonies that founded our republic, they are now embodied in the fifty sovereign states represented by the stars, which cover the stripes
When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, "In God we trust". After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington and the sailors and marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the armed forces of the United States. Preserving for us the rights, privileges and the freedoms we enjoy today

1776: January 1 -- The Grand Union flag is displayed on Prospect Hill. It has 13 alternate red and white stripes and the British Union Jack in the upper left-hand corner.

1776: May -- Betsy Ross reports that she sewed the first American flag.

1777: June 14 -- Continental Congress adopts the following: Resolved: that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation. (stars represent Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island)

1787: Captain Robert Gray carries the flag around the world on his sailing vessel (around the tip of South America, to China, and beyond). He discovered the Columbia river and named it after his boat The Columbia. His discovery was the basis of America's claim to the Oregon Territory.

1795: Flag with 15 stars and 15 stripes (Vermont, Kentucky)

1814: September 14 -- Francis Scott Key writes "The Star-Spangled Banner." It officially becomes the national anthem in 1931.

1818: Flag with 20 stars and 13 stripes (it remains at 13 hereafter) (Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana, Indiana, Mississippi) Act of April 4, 1818 - provided for 13 stripes and one star for each state, to be added to the flag on the 4th of July following the admission of each new state.

1819: Flag with 21 stars (Illinois)

1820: Flag with 23 stars (Alabama, Maine) first flag on Pikes Peak

1822: Flag with 24 stars (Missouri)

1836: Flag with 25 stars (Arkansas)

1837: Flag with 26 stars (Michigan)

1845: Flag with 27 stars (Florida)

1846: Flag with 28 stars (Texas)

1847: Flag with 29 stars (Iowa)

1848: Flag with 30 stars (Wisconsin)

1851: Flag with 31 stars (California)

1858: Flag with 32 stars (Minnesota)

1859: Flag with 33 stars (Oregon)

1861: Flag with 34 stars; (Kansas) first Confederate Flag (Stars and Bars) adopted in Montgomery, Alabama

1863: Flag with 35 stars (West Virginia)

1865: Flag with 36 stars (Nevada)

1867: Flag with 37 stars (Nebraska)

1869: First flag on a postage stamp

1877: Flag with 38 stars (Colorado)

1890: Flag with 43 stars (North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho)

1891: Flag with 44 stars (Wyoming)

1892: "Pledge of Allegiance" first published in a magazine called "The Youth's Companion." Authorship was claimed for James B. Upham and Francis Bellamy. In 1939 the United States Flag Association ruled that Bellamy was the author of the original pledge. The words, "under God" were added on June 14, 1954. In pledging allegiance to the flag, stand with the right hand over the heart or at attention. Men remove their headdress. Persons in uniform give the military salute. All pledge together: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

1896: Flag with 45 stars (Utah)

1908: Flag with 46 stars (Oklahoma)

1909: Robert Peary places the flag his wife sewed atop the North Pole. He left pieces of another flag along the way.

1912: Flag with 48 stars (New Mexico, Arizona) Executive Order of President Taft dated June 24, 1912 - established proportions of the flag and provided for arrangement of the stars in six horizontal rows of eight each, a single point of each star to be upward.

1931: Congress officially recognizes `The Star-Spangled Banner' as the national anthem of the United States . Its stirring words were written by Francis Scott Key.

1945: The flag that flew over Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, is flown over the White House on August 14, when the Japanese accepted surrender terms.

1949: August 3 -- Truman signs bill requesting the President call for Flag Day (June 14) observance each year by proclamation.

1959: Flag with 49 stars (Alaska) Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated January 3, 1959 - provided for the arrangement of the stars in seven rows of seven stars each, staggered horizontally and vertically. Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated August 21, 1959 - provided for the arrangement of the stars in nine rows of stars staggered horizon tally and eleven rows of stars staggered vertically.

1960: Flag with 50 stars (Hawaii)

1963: Flag placed on top of Mount Everest by Barry Bishop.

1969: July 20 -- The American flag is placed on the moon by Neil Armstrong.

1995: December 12 -- The Flag Desecration Constitutional Amendment is narrowly defeated in the Senate. The Amendment to the Constitution would make burning the flag a punishable crime.

Flag Trivia

Q. Who cut the American flag into pieces and was honored for doing it?
A. Robert Peary, who left pieces of the flag scattered at the North Pole.
Q. Is it ever appropriate to fly the flag upside down?
A. Yes, but only in an emergency. It means "Help Me, I am in Trouble!"
Q. What is done with worn or outdated flags?
A. Flags are used until they are worn out and then they are destroyed, preferably by burning. Q. Francis Scott Key wrote the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner" on the back on an envelope. What is the source of the music for it?
A. The music is from an old English drinking song called "To Anacreon in Heaven."
Q. The American flag first flew over a foreign fort in what country?
A. Libya -- over Fort Derne, on the shores of Tripoli.
Q. A vexillologist is an expert in what?
A. The history of flags.
Q. "Shipwreck" Kelly (1885-1952) was famous for sitting for long periods of time. What did he have to do with flags?
A. He set many flagpole-sitting records. He sat for 49 days on one flagpole. He once estimated that he spent a total of over 20,000 hours sitting on flagpoles. Flagpole sitting was a craze started in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1929