Monthly Archives: July 2012

When Did Independence Day Become the Fourth of July

My favorite holiday is Independence Day. On this day, we celebrate the founding principles of our nation, those principles that are the bedrock of our government, the denial of which caused us to separate from the United Kingdom.

On this day we do not celebrate the fact that we’ve reached the fourth day of the seventh month, yet most people refer to this day as the “4th of July”. No other holiday receives this same treatment. We don’t call refer to the 4th Thursday in November, the first Monday in September or The 1st of January, yet Independence Day is known across this nation as the “4th of July.” I haven’t always called this holiday Independence Day, but since I realized its importance and meaning, I’ve tried to use its proper name.

Every Independence Day, the newspaper in my hometown publishes a special edition on the cover of which is printed the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson’s document is a masterpiece of clarity, stating in a factual matter the reasons the founders felt it necessary to change the form of government that had been established in the colonies. There is no malice expressed towards the British people, only a factual statement of what had had been done by the crown and why these actions compelled separation.

Independence Day is a day to celebrate the ideals of the United States and to take a hard look at whether we’re living up to them. It deserves to be called by its proper name, not just by where it falls in the year. Today, I urge you to celebrate the independence of our nation, the independence of spirit that is inherent in our its people, and the fact that our government is based upon consent of the governed.

While today is certainly the 4th day of the seventh month, it is so much more than that. Please remember that we are privileged and blessed to live in the United States. And don’t forget to wish your family, friends, and neighbors a happy Independence Day.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Flags of American History

In honor of Independence Day, I’ve decided to do a vexilological display entitled Flags of American History. In truth, I left it to the internets to decided the theme of this year’s display. I was instructed by the 14 people who voted to go with Flags of American History, so here we go.

The flags displayed are as follows:

Top Row:

The Betsy Ross Flag

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress adopted a resolution stating, “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.” The oft repeated story that Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia seamstress, designed and made the first flag of this pattern have never been verified, nor have the claims to that honor for Francis Hopkinson, a well known political leader from New Jersey. This flag (and several variants of it, served as the flag of the United States from June 14, 1777 to May 1, 1795. This flag has been in my collection since the 1980s.

Middle Row (Left to Right):

The Rhode Island Flag

The basis for Rhode Island’s present state flag, this flag, which bears the famous motto “Hope” was carried by Rhode Island Troops at the Revolutionary War battles of Brandywine, Trenton, and Yorktown. This flag has been in my collection since the 1980s. This flag has been in my collection since the 1980s.

The Flag of the United States

Containing fifty stars and thirteen stripes, the current flag of the United States has been in use since July 4, 1960, a period of 52 years, making it the longest serving flag of our nation. Containing fifty stars and thirteen stripes. The forty eight star flag, in use from July 4, 1912 to July 3, 1959, holds second place. This flag was flown over the United States Capitol on February 22, 1997.

The Gadsen Flag

This flag was used as the Captain’s personal flag on ships of the Continental Navy. It is based on a common symbol of the cause of the American revolution, the rattlesnake, and includes the words, “Don’t Tread on Me.” The Gadsen flag was different from the other flags of this theme in that the rattlesnake is featured coiled, rather than crawling. The Continental Navy Jack, also known as the First Navy Jack, was used by the Continental Navy and is currently used as the jack on all United States war ships. This flag has been in my collection since the 1980s.

Bottom Row (Left to Right):

The Star Spangled Banner

This is the flag that was flying over Ft. McHenry, when Francis Scott Key penned his famous poem, now our national anthem. When the first two states after the original thirteen were added to our nation, the flag was modified to add both a star and a stripe for each state, bringing the total to fifteen stars and fifteen stripes. When five additional states were added in 1818, it was decided to reduce the number of striped back to thirteen to honor the original states, and add a star for each new state. The Star Spangled Banner served as the flag of the United States from May 1, 1795 to July 3, 1818. I purchased this flag at Ft. McHenry in Baltimore in the last 1990s.

The Continental Flag

This flag dates from the Revolutionary War and was carried at the Battle of Bunker Hill. It is a form of the Red Ensign, which was flown on ships of the period. Replacing the Union Jack in the canton of the flag is a green New England Pine tree. The Bunker Hill Flag is a variant on this same theme. This flag has been in my collection since the 1980s. This flag has been in my collection since the 1980s.

The Grand Union Flag

This flag, also known as the Continental Colors, was first hoisted on the Alfred, in Philadelphia on December 2, 1775, by Lt. John Paul Jones. This flag was also used by American Continental forces as both naval ensign and garrison flag through 1776 and early 1777. It served as a national flag until the adoption of the first version of the Stars and Stripes on June 14, 1777. This flag has been in my collection since the 1980s.

The Fremont Flag 

This flag was carried by Gen. John C. Fremont on his wide-spread expeditions in the western United States in the 1840s. As the United States flag was not normally carried by unites of the Army during this period, the Fremont Flag was especially prepared for his expeditions. This flag has been in my collection since the 1980s.

Historical information gleaned from the book Flags of American History by David D. Crouthers, published in 1977 by Hammond Incorporated.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What Flags Should I Display on Independence Day?

As some of you know, I am a collector of flags. You may also know that Independence Day is my favorite holiday. As such, I’m putting the question out to the internets… What type of flags should I display on Independence Day 2012?

  • Flags of American History will be a display of the current and some former flags of our nation along with some historic flags from the Revolutionary War
  • Capitol Flags will be the US flags that I’ve had flown over the United States Capitol in commemoration of momentous occasions in my life and that of my family
  • State Flags will be a display of some of the state flags that I have (along with the US Flag, of course)

I’m opening this poll now and I’ll close it at 2000 PDT on July 3rd. Please let me know your thoughts!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized