UNION — The history and meaning of Old Glory and the sacrifices made by fathers in defense of freedom were part of the National Flag Day celebration at the War Memorial on Main Street Friday morning.
The celebration was hosted by American Legion Post 22 and organized by post 2nd Vice Commander Charles Lott who addressed the small crowd attending the event about the history of the American flag. Quoting information from the Veterans of Foreign Wars website, Lott explained that Flag Day, which is celebrated on June 14, was first recognized by Congress on June 14, 1777. He said the American flag is not only older than the Union Jack of Great Britain and the French tricolor, but is also the only flag to have flown on the moon.
When it first decided on a national flag, Congress ordered that every time a new state was added a star and a stripe would be added to the flag. The first flag of the United States had 13 stars and 13 stripes symbolizing the original 13 states. In 1794, two more states joined the union and the number of stars and stripes on the flag was increased to 15 each. By 1818 there were 20 states and Congress decided that adding more stripes the flag — which at the time still had 15 stars and 15 stripes — would be a problem because of the size involved.
To deal with this, Congress passed a law that, while still requiring a star to be added to the flag for each new state, limited the number of stripes to 13. The 13 stripes — seven red and six white — would symbolize the original 13 states.
Since then the number of stars on the flag has grown from 20 to 50 with the stars in a blue field “next to the staff in the upper left corner of the flag. It extends from the top to the lower edge of the fourth red stripe. The stars are arranged in alternating rows of six and five representing the 50 states of the United States. The stars to do not represent any given state.”
Lott pointed out that just as the stars and stripes symbolizes the number of states in the union at the present time and the first 13 states, the colors of the flag also have symbolic meaning.
“The colors used in the flag given special meaning to the flag: Red for valor and zeal; white for hope and cleanliness of life; and blue — the color of heaven — for reverence and loyalty.”
Lott added that stars are also “an ancient symbol of the heavens.” He said they also represent the political reality of the United States of America.
“Our flag’s 50 stars represent each state as part of the nation, but also a separate level of government. Our federal government was not given the power to control, so that each state would be able to govern themselves in those things they could do better.”
Finally, Lott said the flag has historic message for the American people.
“When you are looking at the flag, you are looking at the magnificent history of all Americans who have lived before us, your own ancestors, the most enduring nation of free people that has ever existed.”
The National Flag Day Celebration was held at the War Memorial on Main Street. The memorial bears the names of all Union County residents killed in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
American Legion Post 22 member Mickey Gist also spoke Friday and pointed out that Flag Day is just two days before Father’s Day. Gist pointed to the names on the memorial, describing them as fathers who gave their lives so that their children and their nation might continue to enjoy the freedoms enjoyed by generations of Americans before them.
“There’s a lot of fathers on the plaques behind me,” Gist said. “If it wasn’t for those fathers we wouldn’t be here in freedom. We need to thank those fathers.”
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.