4th of July
The Fourth of July - also known as Independence Day - has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941. Independence Day celebrations go back to the 18th century and the American Revolution. On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence. From 1776 to our present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with festivities ranging from fireworks and parades, to concerts and family gatherings with burgers and barbecues.
Grand Union Flag
At the outbreak of the American Revolution, American colonists enthusiastically flew plenty of makeshift flags to set them apart from their British adversaries. By 1777, the first official flag to represent the Patriots, known as “the Continental Colors” or more importantly, the “Grand Union Flag,” seemed eerily like the British Union Jack and thus required modification.
On June 14th, 1777, the Founders took a brief respite from debating the Articles of Confederation to pass the first “flag resolution.” They resolved that the flag, known as the “Stars and Stripes,” would consist of “13 stripes alternate red and white” and that “the Union be 13 stars white in a blue field representing a new constellation.”
Betsy Ross Flag (13 stars)
The first official flag of the US and designed with 13 stars and 13 stripes to represent the 13 colonies. Legend has it the Philadelphia seamstress, Betsy Ross, made and helped design this flag, but historians have never been able to verify this completely. The Second Continental Congress passed the Flag Resolution of 1777 on June 14, 1777 making the Betsy Ross flag official. The only president to serve under this flag was George Washington.
Star Spangled Banner Flag (15 stars)
Made by Mary Pickersgill and her daughter and designed with 15 stars and 15 stripes to represent the 13 original states plus Kentucky and Vermont. In 1812 the flag was flown over Fort McHenry, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star Spangled Banner poem. It was then put to music to become America’s national anthem. The Star Spangled Banner is on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History/
20-Star American Flag
Also known as the Great Star Flag and the Flag of 1818, this flag was designed by Navy Captain Samuel Reid. Congress passed the Flag Act of 1818, adding five new stars to the flag and reducing the number of stripes from 15 to 13. The five additional stars represented Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana, Indiana, Mississippi. James Monroe was the only president to serve under this flag
24-Star American Flag
The name "Old Glory" was given to the National Flag on August 10, 1831, by Captain William Driver of the brig Charles Doggett. The flag, which was given to him by his mother and friends, became famous by the time of the Civil War and is one of America's greatest treasures.
In 1818 Congress established that the number of stripes were to remain permanently at thirteen, representing the thirteen original states of the first flag, and from that date on, only a star should be added for each new admitted state.
48-Star American Flag
Two stars were added to the flag for the admission of New Mexico and Arizona. With the passing an Executive Order in 1912 by President Taft, which established proportions for the flag and arranged the stars in six horizontal rows of eight, with each star pointing upward. This flag was in service for 47 years, lasting through two World Wars and making it the longest serving flag until July 4, 2007, when it will be succeeded by the 50-star American flag.
50-Star American Flag
After Alaska and then Hawaii added stars, seventeen-year old Bob Heft had predicted that Hawaii would gain statehood after Alaska, and designed a 50-star flag for his high school history class, which was selected by President Eisenhower to become the national emblem. The 50-star flag is America's longest serving flag.
Red The color red represents hardiness and valor, as well as courage and readiness to sacrifice. It is also sometimes said to represent the blood shed by those who have fought to protect our freedom and our country.
Blue The color blue signifies justice for all, as well as vigilance and perseverance. A reminder that we must remain watchful and strong.
White The color white stands for purity and innocence. Pure, because we are independent from other countries and hold true to our ideals.
The Star-Spangled Banner
O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,
’Tis the star-spangled banner - O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto - “In God is our trust,”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
© Francis Scott Key