“When is Flag Day?”
“Flag Day is in June”
The Reading and Writing part of the USCIS citizenship interview according to Prem, Nepal
Neighboring town Yeadon held their annual Flag Day celebration. This year was special because I had the pleasure of witnessing 15 people become United States citizens. It was also special because the grandson of William Kerr, Dr Thomas Kerr, was on hand to help celebrate the day.
William Kerr started rallying for the recognition of the American Flag at the age of 14. A 67 year campaign that spanned nine presidents was realized when President Harry Truman officially recognized Flag Day. June 14 is significant because in 1777, the Continental Congress adopted the first flag, 13 red and white stripes, and 13 white stars with a blue background, as the first American flag.
Flag Day is significant in my house because at least once a day, I hear The Boy singing “Guns and Ships” from Hamilton the musical*. He asked me why was Betsy Ross so significant, and I took that as a cue to give a mini history lesson on Miss Ross as well as plan a trip to visit her house this summer. There are some who think Ross didn’t actually have much to do with the flag, but this bit of folklore is still fun to explore.
William Driver is credited with calling the flag Old Glory. According to the Smithsonian website, Driver “received the homemade flag with 24 stars in 1824, sewn for him by his mother and a group of young Salem female admirers to celebrate his appointment, at the age of just 21, as a master mariner and commander of his own ship, the Charles Doggett.” As he raised the flag up “the main mast,” he remarked “My ship, my country, and my flag, Old Glory.” As with all history, there is dispute about THIS origin story as well.
The Star-Spangled Banner
Francis Scott Key penned the national anthem as a poem, inspired by the sight of the American flag flying over Fort McHenry the morning after the bombardment. My favorite version of the anthem is Whitney Houston belting it out before the Super Bowl.
O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
The Pledge of Allegiance
When The Mister and I visited Niagara Falls a few months ago, we took a wrong turn and ended up passing through Mount Morris, New York, the birthplace of Francis Bellamy, author of the Pledge of Allegiance. The Pledge was written originally as a way to increase the sales of American flags in school (God bless capitalism!). The threat of Communism in In 1954, prompted President Eisenhower to add the words “under God,” creating the 31-word pledge that is recited today.**
“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.”
The following are questions related to the flag from the USCIS 100 civic questions.
USCIS Test Questions:
What do we show loyalty to when we say the Pledge of Allegiance?
- the United States
- the flag
Why does the flag have 13 stripes?
- because there were 13 original colonies
- because the stripes represent the original colonies
Why does the flag have 50 stars?
- because there is one star for each state
- because each star represents a state
- because there are 50 states
What is the name of the national anthem?
- The Star-Spangled Banner
There were 13 original states. Name three.
*Lyrics from Guns and Ships:
How does a ragtag volunteer army in need of a shower
Somehow defeat a global superpower?
How do we emerge victorious from the quagmire?
Leave the battlefield waving Betsy Ross’ flag higher?