With our country’s birthday, July 4, days away, I thought it would be interesting to do some Old Glory research. Much has unfolded since Betsy Ross was asked by George Washington to make the first flag in June 1776. Betsy was a widow struggling to run her own upholstery business. Upholsterers in colonial America not only worked on furniture, but did all manner of sewing work, which for some included making flags. According to Betsy, General Washington showed her a rough design of the flag that included a six-pointed star, an easy star to create. Betsy, a standout with the scissors (you go girl!), demonstrated how to cut a five-pointed star with a single snip and amazed everyone (How to cut a five-pointed star in a single snip). Impressed, George entrusted Betsy with making our first flag. Betsy shows how one woman’s contribution can define the course and meaning of history.
I discovered some interesting facts about the United States flag and am well on my way to becoming a vexillologist (flag expert). Well, maybe not, but I wanted to use that word. You may already know that our flag is referred to as the “Red, White, and Blue,” “Stars and Stripes” and “Star Spangled Banner.” The only flag I have ever known is the one with 50 stars and 13 stripes. When you consider how long it took the United States to reach the 50-state mark (beginning with the 13 colonies and ending with Hawaii in 1960), you realize that our flag has changed often, one star at a time.
Some of the changes over time look like this.
In 1795, there were 15 states and the flag had 15 stripes back then.
By 1865, the United States was made up of 36 states and now had 13 stripes. The stripes changed from 15 to 13 when the 20th state was added, and it hasn't changed since.
And so it goes until in 1960, when the Hula state, Hawaii joined us. Voila! We have the American flag of today with 50 stars and 13 stripes. Isn’t she a beauty?
Listen to this! There is already a “Proposed Flag” with 51 stars, to be used if a 51st state is added. It’s weird to think that this flag could change again. Maybe even in my lifetime. It looks like this:
Although the flag has changed with the years, the important things haven’t. It remains America’s signature. Neil Armstrong placed her on the moon in 1967 and in 1963 Barry Bishop was the first to stick her atop Mt. Everest. This flag stands for the land, the people, the government and the ideals of the United States. It demands respect and I could not agree more with John A. Dix who sent a telegram from Washington in 1861 that stated, “If any one attempts to haul down the American flag, shoot him on the spot.”
Riding a unicycle is like life. To be successful and enjoy the ride, they both require tremendous balance and focus. I sit up tall, shoulders back and imagine I am holding one of my young boys under each arm. My best-friend-techie-husband’s hand on my seat (hubba, hubba) to guide me, and my two wiener dogs running alongside, looking like double Dumbos. As I train to ride Blanche, my unicycle, in a half-marathon, I think how good God is as the breeze blows my brown hair, a big smile on my face. Come along for a thrilling one-wheel ride while I do my best to maintain balance... but keep an open mind, there is always something new to learn!