Happy Flag Day! First of all, I like to celebrate: my birthday, every holiday, and I like to REMEMBER as in Memorial Day and D-Day and other days when important events have happened in my history or our nation's history. If that weren't reason enough to enjoy and celebrate Flag Day, here's another - it was started by school teachers! As any of you more frequent visitors may remember, I was a school teacher for 32 years before I retired. Naturally, I did other kinds of work before college and teaching, so I actually worked for over 40 years before I retired. But, anyhow, I want to support the efforts of my fellow teachers in creating another reason to celebrate - AND - I love this country and I love this state!
Now, it is common knowledge that there is no solid proof that Betsy Ross actually made the first American flag - and there are bits of evidence pointing to other flag makers of the period, however, Betsy Ross is a much loved American Icon and she serves as a symbol of all the other artisans who were working for our nation in the Colonial period and who suffered during the Revolution. She lost her husband, Ross, and she endured the British occupation of Philadelphia and the many privations that everyone suffered in that time of civil strife. We do know, solid evidence in the form of receipts, that she sewed shirts for George Washington and made flags for various branches of the military. Flags were a very important communication tool both on and off the battlefield.
In my mind the blue stands for hope and as a metaphor ("Blue Skies" for happiness) and well-being, the red for the blood shed by the tens of thousands who died to make us free, then to hold together the Union, and then in foreign wars. To me the white stands for shirts, bandages and bed sheets and the homely things made by women to help the soldiers and the wounded in their time of need. For example, Benjamin Franklin's daughter Sarah Bache, raised a fortune to buy material and then organized womens' sewing circles to make shirts for the starving and half naked men in the Continental Army.
On the subject of remembering the behind the scenes but ever so important efforts by New Jersey women, we should not only remember Betsy Ross, maiden name Griscom, who was raised on her family's farm near Glucester City in New Jersey, but also Clara Barton, who taught school for a time in New Jersey and her little one-room school can still be seen in Bordentown.
She went on, after her teaching career, to work diligently in Washington D.C., to see to it that as many of the Civil War Union dead as possible were identified. To anyone who has had a loved one in the military in a war zone, you know you'd want to know your loved one was found and buried and not be in perpetual torment with a Missing In Action mystery. She formed a clearing house for information for families of missing soldiers and identified more than 10,000 of the missing buried in unmarked graves over the battlefields of the Civil War.
a digression: Megan Smolenyak of ancestry.com fame, who lives in Haddonfield, NJ, also works, in this very period, to help identify remains of war dead which are still being found and brought home for burial.
Well, these are just a few of my thought today, on Flag Day! I'm off to Millville now to have a delicious vegan lunch at Wildflowers, then a boatride on the Maurice River with Captain Dave, and several friends and a more beautiful day for such an excursion, could not be imagined.
Some Fun Flag Facts:
The oldest American Flag is the Forster Flag of 1775, which was a field of red with 13 white stripes in the corner.
In 1914, Franklin Lane, Secretary of the Interior delivered a Flag Day Address in which he repeated words he said the flag had spoken to him that morning: "I am what you make me, nothing more. I swing before your eyes as a bright glean of color, a symbol of yourself."
On August 3rd, 1949, President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th a National Flag Day.
My favorite American Flag is the DON"T TREAD ON ME flag.
Happy Trails! Jo Ann