Our Flag of the United States of America
Until the Executive Order of June 24, 1912, neither the order of the stars nor the proportions of the flag was prescribed. Consequently, flags dating before this period sometimes show unusual arrangements of the stars and odd proportions, these features being left to the discretion of the flag maker. In general, however, straight rows of stars and proportions similar to those later adopted officially were used. The principal acts affecting the flag of the United States are the following:
- Flag Resolution of June 14, 1777 - stated: "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."
- Act of January 13, 1794 - provided for 15 stripes and 15 stars after May 1795.
- Act of April 4, 1818 - provided for 13 stripes and one star for each state, to be added to the flag on the 4th of July following the admission of each new state.
- Executive Order of President Taft dated June 24, 1912 - established proportions of the flag and provided for arrangement of the stars in six horizontal rows of eight each, a single point of each star to be upward.
- Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated January 3, 1959 - provided for the arrangement of the stars in seven rows of seven stars each, staggered horizontally and vertically.
- Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated August 21, 1959 - provided for the arrangement of the stars in nine rows of stars staggered horizontally and eleven rows of stars staggered vertically.
A 19 year old school teacher, Bernard J. Cigrand, in 1885 held the first Flag Day exercises at Fredonia, Ozaukee County, Wisconsin. Thirty-one years later, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson declared June 14 as National Flag Day. The little cobblestone school house has been restored and is now a shrine for the purpose of honoring the Flag.
The Pledge Of Allegiance
as narrated by Red Skelton
Click here for a VIDEO of Red Skelton Performing the Pledge of Allegiance [Alternate]
Red Skelton, one of America’s best-loved comedians, recited his version of the Pledge of Allegiance on numerous occasions.
The following words were spoken by the late Red Skelton on his television program (the Red Skelton Hour that was broadcast on January 14, 1969) as he related the story of his teacher, Mr. Laswell, who felt his students had come to think of the Pledge of Allegiance as merely something to recite in class each day.
"When I was a small boy in Vincennes, Indiana, I heard, I think, one of the most outstanding speeches I have ever heard in my life. I think it compares to a sermon on the mound, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and Socrates' speech to the students. We had just finished reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, and he called us all together. And he says:
"I've been listening to you boys and girls recite the Pledge of Allegiance all semester and it seems as though it is becoming monotonous to you. If I may, may I recite it and try to explain to you the meaning of each word?"
|I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the republic, for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all.|
After reciting this older version of the pledge, Red Skelton continues ...
Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our country
and two words have been added to the pledge of Allegiance...
Wouldn't it be a pity if someone said
that is a prayer
and that would be eliminated from schools too?
God Bless America!
The pledge to the flag was written as part of a high school essay by Frank Bellamy and submitted to a contest sponsored by "The Youth's Companion", a magazine published in Boston in 1892. It won. It was first used in the public schools on Columbus day, October 12, 1892. A few changes where made along the way and the result is what we recite today.
MEANING OF FOLDING THE USA FLAG
Have you ever noticed the honor guard pays meticulous attention to correctly folding the American flag 13 times? You probably thought it was to symbolize the original 13 colonies, but we learn something new every day!
The 1st fold of our flag is a symbol of life.
The 2nd fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.
The 3rd fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.
The 4th fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.
The 5th fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, "Our Country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.
The 6th fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that WE pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States Of America, and the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.
The 7th fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.
The 8th fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day.
The 9th fold is a tribute to womanhood, and Mothers. For it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.
The 10th fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.
The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies in the Hebrews eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in the Christians eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.
The 13th fold, or when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of our nations motto, "In God We Trust."
After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington, and the Sailors and Marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the rights, privileges and freedoms we enjoy today.
There are some traditions and ways of doing things that have deep meaning. In the future, you'll see flags folded and now you will know why.
I Am Your Flag
written by Marine Msgt. Perry Webb
I AM YOUR FLAG
I was born June 14, 1777.
1 am more than just cloth shaped into a design.
I am the refuge of the world's oppressed people.
I am the silent sentinel of Freedom.
I am the emblem of the greatest sovereign nation on earth.
I am the inspiration for which American patriots gave their lives and fortunes.
I have led your sons into battle from Valley Forge to the jungles of Vietnam.
I walk in silence with each of your Honored Dead to their final resting place beneath the silent white crosses, row upon row.
I have flown through peace and war, strife and prosperity, and amidst it all I have been respected.
My Red Stripes symbolize the blood spilled in defense of this glorious nation.
My White Stripes signify the burning tears shed by Americans who lost their sons.
My Blue Field is indicative of God's heaven, under which I fly.
My Stars, clustered together, unify 50 states as one, for God and Country.
Old Glory' is my nickname, and proudly I wave on high.
Honor me, respect me, defend me with your lives and your fortunes.
Never let my enemies tear me down from my lofty position, lest I never return.
Keep alight the fires of patriotism, strive earnestly for the spirit of democracy.
Worship Eternal God and keep His commandments, and I shall remain the bulwark of peace and freedom for all mankind.
I Am Your Flag.
FLAG RETIREMENT CEREMONIES
Source: Boy Scouts
A flag is never said to be burned - it is retired. That means it is NOT a Flag Burning Ceremony. Disposing a flag that is worn, faded, or tattered by retiring (burning it) is the only method approved by Congress. The burning should take place at a ceremony which shows respect and honor to the flag/s being retired.
If you are attending a Flag Retirement with younger scouts, you may want to take the time to explain about the ceremony. Some young scouts may not see the difference between the flags being burned on TV by some demonstrator and the one being retired. A few minutes of explanation before the ceremony may save tears and worries during it.
Where can a flag retirement ceremony take place?
Many scouting events lend well to ceremonies.
What do I need?
What you need often depends on the ceremony you choose. You will need a flag that needs to be retired, a fire, and an outdoor area to perform the ceremony.
Where do I get a flag if I do not have one?
Check with your local council office. Often flags are dropped off by people. Your local schools may be a source. Your sponsoring organization may be able to help. Check with your VFW Posts and other Veteran's posts. An ad in a local paper may get you more flags than you want but it can be another source. Almost anywhere a flag is flown on a regular schedule like a bank, post office, car dealerships etc.
What should I be careful of while doing the ceremony?
First, you need a fire that is active but not huge. If a fire has just been started, the flag may put the fire out rather than burn. Next, be careful of wind. If it is windy, the flag may catch fire then blow out causing a problem. Make sure everyone knows their part in the ceremony. This will help insure things go well. Make sure all precautions are taken that would normally be done when a campfire is set. And last, Beware of the flag material. Some flags will melt rather than burn, others will flare up when touched by flames.
Where can I burn the flag for retirement?
Campfires are often the main place flags are retired. You can also use large 55 gallon drums (be careful for these act as chimneys and will push the flag in the air if not careful.) Some units have built special burning bins to retire large flags and large quantity of flags.
Below are a few ceremonies that I have collected. If you have any flag retirement ceremonies that you would like posted or linked to, please e-mail me the information.
United States Code
Title 36: Patriotic Societies and Observances [Sometimes cited as the (Federal) Flag Code]
Section 173: Display and use of flag by civilians; codification of rules and customs; definitions.
The following codification of existing rules and customs pertaining to the use and display of the flag of the United States of America is established for the use of such civilians or civilian groups or organizations as may not be required to conform with regulations not promulgated by one or more executive departments of the Government of the United States, The flag of the United States for the purpose of this chapter shall be defined according to sections 1 and 2 of Title 4 and Executive Order 10834 issued pursuant thereto.
Section 174: Time and occasions for display
(a) Displays on buildings and stationary flag staffs in open; night display It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagpoles in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.
(b) Manner of hoisting
The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
(c) Inclement weather
The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all-weather flag is displayed.
(d) Particular days of display:
The flag should be displayed on all days, especially on:
New Year's Day, January 1;
Inauguration Day, January 20;
Lincoln's Birthday, February 12;
Washington's Birthday, third Monday in February;
Easter Sunday (variable);
Mother's Day, second Sunday in May;
Armed Forces Day, third Saturday in May;
Memorial Day (half-staff until noon), the last Monday in May;
Flag Day, June 14;
Independence Day, July 4;
Labor Day, first Monday in September;
Constitution Day, September 17;
Columbus Day, second Monday in October;
Navy Day, October 27;
Veteran's Day, November 11;
Thanksgiving Day, fourth Thursday in November;
Christmas Day, December 25;
and such other days as may be proclaimed by the President of the United States;
the birthdays of states (dates of admission);
and on state holidays.
[Title 36 of the United States Code also specifies in other sections these further or duplicated days upon which the flag should be displayed:
36 USC Sec. 149: Thomas Jefferson's Birthday, April 13 36 USC Sec. 164: Law Day, U.S.A., May 1
36 USC Sec. 162: Loyalty Day, May 1
36 USC Sec. 141: Mother's Day, second Sunday in May
36 USC Sec. 145: National Maritime Day, May 22
36 USC Sec. 157: Flag Day, June 14
36 USC Sec. 157a: National Flag Week, the week of June 14
36 USC Sec. 142a: Father's Day, third Sunday in June
36 USC Sec. 151: Aviation Day, August 19
36 USC Sec. 153: Citizenship Day, September 17
36 USC Sec. 147: Gold Star Mother's Day, last Sunday in September
36 USC Sec. 146: Columbus Day, second Monday in October
(e) Display on or near administration buildings of public institutions The flag should be displayed daily on or near the main administration building of every public institution.
(f) Display in or near polling places
The flag should be displayed in or near every polling place on election days.
(g) Display in or near schoolhouses
The flag should be displayed during school days in or near every schoolhouse.
Section 175: Position and manner of display
The flag, when carried in a procession with another flag or flags, should be either on the marching right; that is, the flag's own right, or, if there is a line of other flags, in front of the center of that line.
(a) The flag should not be displayed on a float in a parade except from a staff, or as provided in subsection (i) of this section.
(b) The flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle or of a railroad train or a boat. When the flag is displayed on a motorcar, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.
(c) No other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea, when the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for personnel of the Navy. No person shall display the flag of the United Nations or any other national or international flag equal, above, or in a position of superior prominence or honor to, or in place of, the flag of the United States at any place within the United States or any Territory or possession thereof
(d) The flag of the United States of America, when it is displayed with another flag against a wall from crossed staffs, should be on the right, the flag's own right, and its staff should be in front of the staff of the other flag.
(e) The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of States or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs.
(f) When flags of States, cities, or localities, or pennants of societies are fl own on the same halyard with the flag of the United States, the latter should always be at the peak. When the flags are flown from adjacent staffs, the flag of the United States should be hoisted first and lowered last. No such flag or pennant may be placed above the flag of the United States or to the United States flag's right.
(g) When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace.
(h) When the flag of the United States is displayed from a staff projecting horizontally or at an angle from the window sill, balcony, or front of a building, the union of the flag shall be placed at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half staff. When the flag is suspended over a sidewalk form a rope extending from a house to a pole at the edge of the sidewalk, the flag should be hoisted out, union first, from the building.
(i) When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag's own right, that is, to the observer's left. When displayed in a window, the flag should be displayed in the same way, with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street.
(j) When the flag is displayed over the middle of the street, it should be suspended vertically with the union to the north in an east and west street or to the east in a north and south street.
(k) When used on a speaker's platform, the flag, if displayed flat, should be displayed above and behind the speaker. When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium, the flag of the United States of America should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience, and in the position of honor at the clergyman's or speaker's right as he faces the audience. Any other flag so displayed should be placed to the left of the clergyman or speaker or to the right of the audience.
(l) The flag should form a distinctive feature of the ceremony of unveiling a statue or monument, but it should never be used as the covering for the statue or monument.
(m) The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should again be raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day.
On Memorial Day the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff.
By order of the President, the flag shall be flown at half-staff upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, as a mark of respect to their memory.
In the event of the death of other officials or foreign dignitaries, the flag is to be displayed at half staff according to Presidential instructions or orders, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law. In the event of the death of a present or former official of the government of any State, territory, or possession of the United States, the Governor of that State, territory or possession may proclaim that the National flag shall be flown at half-staff. The flag shall be flown at half-staff thirty days from the death of a President or former President; ten days from the day of death of a Vice President, the Chief Justice or a retired Chief Justice of the United States, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives; from the day of death until interment of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, a Secretary of an executive or military department, a former Vice President, or the Governor of a State, territory, or possession; and on the day of death and the following day for a Member of Congress. As used in this subsection -
(1) the term "half-staff" means the position of the flag when it is one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff;
(2) the term "executive or military department" means any agency listed under sections 101 and 102 of Title 5; and
(3) the term "Member of Congress" means a Senator, a Representative, a Delegate, or the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico.
(n) When the flag is used to cover a casket, it should be placed so that the union is at the head and over the left shoulder. The flag should not be lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground.
(o) When the flag is suspended across the corridor or lobby in a building with only one main entrance, it should be suspended vertically with the union of the flag to the observer's left upon entering. If the building has more than one main entrance, the flag should be suspended vertically near the center of the corridor or lobby with the union to the north, when entrances are to the east and west or to the east when entrances are to the north and south. If there are entrances in more than two directions, the union should be to the east.
Section 176: Respect for flag
No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.
(a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
(b) The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
(c) The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
(d) The flag should never be user as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker's desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.
(e) The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.
(f) The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.
(g) The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, figure, word, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.
(h) The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
(i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such items as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on napkins or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.
(j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn or the left lapel near the heart.
(k) The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.
Section 177: Conduct during hoisting, lowering, or passing of flag During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag, or when the flag is passing in a parade or in review, all persons present except those in uniform should face the flag and stand at attention with the right hand over the heart. Those present in military uniform should render the military salute. When not in uniform, men should remove their headdress with the right hand and hold it over the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. aliens should stand at attention. The salute to the flag in a moving column should be rendered at the moment the flag passes.
Section 178: Modification of rules and customs by President Any rule or custom pertaining to the display of the flag of the United States of America, set forth in sections 171 to 178 of this title, may be altered, modified, or repealed, or additional rules with respect thereto may be prescribed, by the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, whenever he deems it to be appropriate or desirable, and any such alteration or additional rule shall be set forth in a proclamation.
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