Schools, government buildings, post offices, stadiums, and even the moon all have one thing in common: The utilization of a constantly flying American Flag. My country’s flag means so much to so many people. It flies high in an unwavering testament to freedom, perseverance, and to unity. The history and evolution behind Old Glory, as some like to call it, tells the story of America’s history as it grew. Considering that its origins began while the first thirteen colonies became states after the revolutionary war, the flag symbolizes America’s resilience and rebellious beginnings.
I consider often what the American flag means to me on a personal level. Growing up, the flag served as a rallying point for many of us while in school. There was always The Pledge of Allegiance every day before the day got rolling, or gatherings at the flagpole outside. Our principal would sometimes come over the loudspeaker and explain why our flag was at half-mast, and to appreciate such a high honor through my younger years left a powerful impression. We celebrated 4th of July every year by watching huge fireworks displays, barbeques with the family, all with a flag proudly displayed.
Through my adulthood, it served as such a source of pride for my country. National Anthems at sports games sent chills down my spine, a favorite line of mine was always “gave proof to the night that our flag was still there.” After September 11th 2001, the displays of American Flags swelled to mass amounts. There were seen everywhere; mounted on cars, waved on the streets, and anchored on homes. That fateful day gave more meaning to the flag than I had ever deemed possible. I admire the resiliency of our country through the hardest times, and I cherish that our flag never loses its meaning.
With Independence Day approaching, I look back at the history of our flag and what it meant in times of a desire for freedom of the founders for America. The flag as we know it today was derived from The Grand Union Flag, which was the British Union Flag with thirteen red and white stripes that represented the original colonies. After we gained our independence from Britain, the flag act was put into effect nearly a year later in 1777. The Flag Act was vaguely described as “a new constellation” which became white stars on a region of blue first designed by Francis Hopkinson. The Flag Act described a union represented by equal parts, and the day of the design’s finalization, June 14th, became a nationally recognized day known as Flag Day. The flag started as means of identification for America’s ships and armies, but throughout the years evolved into a national ensign to represent all the states in the union.
As the face of America changed, so did the emblem that represented its growing number of states. In fact, the flag was not fully complete until 1959, the year that both Hawaii and Alaska joined the Union. Manifest Destiny was a phrase coined in 1845 that signified that the United States will consist of independent but nationally regulated states spanning from the Atlantic to Pacific Oceans. It was indeed a long journey that was a culmination of such events such as the Louisiana Purchase, and the Texas Revolution. The settlements of territories in the Western United states furthered this notion of one great nation. Expansion of territories into the west were a result of various religious and economic pursuits, and ended with eventual founding of the Pacific States as well as what we now recognize as the midwestern region of the U.S.
The flags of countries from around the world serve as a point of honor for all its respective citizens. America’s flag through the years happens to tell its own story of war, growth, honor, and respect. As our nation comes together to celebrate its independence, take some time to appreciate the meaning behind our own star-spangled banner.