What does “Old Glory” stand for?
By Airman 1st Class Jessica Lockoski, 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 07, 2007
MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- An American flag draped over a military coffin; catching a quick glimpse of a red, white and blue ribbon decal magnetized to the back of a passing car - both may hold a high significance, strong emotions of devotedness, and symbolism to patriotic members of the United States.
With Memorial Day behind us and Independence Day to look forward to, Flag Day is celebrated each year on June 14 to honor this symbol that can bring feelings of pride and comfort of "home" to its citizens.
For many, it is a representation of freedom and democracy and this flag can be found flying in almost every town in the U.S.
Yet, when asked where this symbol originated, many people ponder thoughts long forgotten, taught to them during the years of primary school when they stood with hands across their hearts to recite the pledge of allegiance.
To celebrate Flag Day, people can regain insight to the meaning behind the US flag with some facts about it, the country's history and heritage.
No one is certain who designed the first U.S. flag or who sewed it together. In journals of the Continental Congress, it shows that a New Jersey congressman by the name of Francis Hopkinson first designed it.
The legendary story of Betsy Ross designing and sewing the flag in 1776 from a pencil sketch given to her by the first official president of the United States, George Washington, is still a debate with historians.
Regardless of the mystery behind its making, on June 14, 1777 Congress passed the first flag act that stated the U.S. flag must be made of thirteen stripes of red and white, and the union should be thirteen stars, white in a blue field.
It wasn't until 100 years later congressed asked the public to fly the flag off of buildings in commemoration on June 14, therefore starting a tradition for Americans until it officially became a national celebration by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916.
With the evolution of the U.S., the flag has adapted various nick-names as Old Glory, Stars and Stripes, and Star Spangled Banner. It is known by the U.S. military as "the colors."
Each part of the flag signifies a different meaning. The flag consists of 13 horizontal stripes, seven red stripes alternating with six white stripes to represent the 13 original colonies, and the stars represent the 50 states of the Union.
The colors of the flag are symbolic as well. Though there are many explanations for what each color means, over time it has been stated by Americans that the red color symbolizes hardiness and valor, white symbolizes purity and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.
Many people explain and illustrate what each of these strong words mean to them, but if anyone needs to be reminded, they do not have to go to a parade to see a U.S. flag, or even to the many favorite American pastimes that kick-off with a tribute to "Old Glory," instead they can simply be reminded of the luxuries of freedom and the daily sacrifices men and women of U.S. make that add to the significance behind this historical icon.