The nation every June 14 celebrates Flag Day. It comes this year as the United States remains at war against global terrorism. It comes amid a debate over the ability of immigrants to seek a life under the Stars and Stripes. And controversy lingers over such key national matters as health care, taxation, voting rights, and crime and punishment.
Putting the debates aside for a day on this 240th anniversary of Old Glory, we look back a decade to 2007 and the words of Eugene J. Nebelung of Beaufort, writing for the Knights of Columbus:
As we each have a birthday, our nation's flag, "The Stars and Stripes,” also has a birthday. Since the first official Flag Day in 1916, Americans, wherever they may be, gather together on June 14 to celebrate the birth of our flag, the “Red, White and Blue,” the flag that symbolizes the concepts of liberty, independence and democracy.
Our flag was officially adopted on June 14, 1777, when the Continental Congress resolved that "the Flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white, that the Union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation."
In 1795, two stars and two stripes were added after Vermont and Kentucky joined the Union. It was this flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write our National Anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner," during the War of 1812, while Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Md., was under siege by the British.
In 1818, the design of the flag was again changed. A decision was made to keep 13 stripes permanently, representing the original 13 colonies, and add stars to indicate the current number of states in the Union.
On Feb. 23, 1945, the flag, "Old Glory," raised atop Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima, contained 48 stars. The latest revision to our flag was introduced on July 4, 1960, with the addition of the 50th star, when Hawaii was admitted to statehood, as the 50th state in the greatest nation on Earth.
In 1985, President Ronald Reagan signed Public Law 99-54 recognizing the Pause for the Pledge of Allegiance as part of National Flag Day activities. It is an invitation urging all Americans to participate on June 14 at 7 p.m. EDT in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The effect of this simple ceremony, which transcends age, race, religion, national origin, political and geographic differences, is a stimulating patriotic experience at home and a sign of unity abroad.
On Memorial Day we pay tribute to those who gave their lives for God, flag and country.
On Independence Day, we will celebrate the birth of the nation symbolized by this flag.
And Flag Day, we will render honor to our American flag, the symbol of freedom.
"I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation, under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all."