We’re taking this weekend off to celebrate with our families, but we couldn’t miss the opportunity to acknowledge a holiday that has rapidly gone from a celebration of our independence to a weekend of BBQ worship. 😉 Since so few of us know the history of Independence Day, we thought it would be fun to share a few points of interest:
Our Declaration of Independence
- Independence Day became an official holiday in 1941, but has been celebrated unofficially since the day in 1776 when our newly formed Congress signed the Declaration of Independence.
- The number of people estimated to be living in the newly formed nation on July 4, 1776 is 2.5 million. In 2014 we have more than 317 million people in the United States.
- Many people did not know that the majority of the Declaration was drafted by Thomas Jefferson. It was believed for many years to have been a collaborative effort, rather than the work on a single man.
- The Declaration is not only a statement of independence from our mother country, but a list of grievances against the King to justify the decision.
- Today, the original Declaration of Independence resides in the National Archives in Washington, D.C
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The Flag of the United States of America
- The original flag of the United States of America is widely believed to have been made by Besty Ross, a Philadelphia seamstress.
- The official stance on the origination of the flag is that it is unknown who designed and created the first flag.
- On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act: “Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”
- The flag continued to evolve as the nation grew, until it reached it’s current design of 50 stars and 13 stripes.
- Charles Thompson, Secretary of the Continental Congress, reporting to Congress on the Seal, stated:
“The colors of the pales (the vertical stripes) are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valour, and Blue, the color of the Chief (the broad band above the stripes) signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice.”
- A book published by the House of Representatives in 1977 explains further:
“The star is a symbol of the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial; the stripe is symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun.”
- Have you ever noticed the flag patches on military uniforms are placed backwards? Here’s why:
The regulation states that when authorized for application to the proper uniform the American flag patch is to be worn, right or left shoulder, so that “the star field faces forward, or to the flag’s own right. When worn in this manner, the flag is facing to the observer’s right, and gives the effect of the flag flying in the breeze as the wearer moves forward. The appropriate replica for the right shoulder sleeve is identified as the ‘reverse side flag’.” (Army Regulation 670-1)
The following information on proper flag etiquette is taken from The Flag Code, posted at http://www.usflag.org:
- The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.
- The flag should not be used as a drapery, or for covering a speakers desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.
- The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard
- The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations.
- The flag should never have placed on it, or attached to it, any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind.
- The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
- When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.
- When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner.
Have you ever had the opportunity to observe or participate in the retirement of a flag? It is an incredibly powerful ceremony that will make your heart swell with pride and love for our nation. If you have not had this opportunity, I would highly encourage you to attend one soon. Contact your local Boy Scouts of America office to find out if any ceremonies are scheduled to take place in your area.
Independence Day is an opportunity for us to express our love for our nation, our appreciation for our forefathers who poured their hearts and souls into freeing our nation from tyranny, and to show our respect and appreciation to those men and women who serve today to protect our freedoms. Remember to show respect for the flag and thank a veteran or active duty serviceman or servicewoman at every available opportunity. Teach your children about the flag, and about our country’s humble beginnings. Teach them to have respect for our history as they no doubt hold our future in their tiny hands!
Enjoy your celebrations this weekend!