On this day in history, September 3, 1777, ‘Stars and Stripes’ flies in battle for first time
Our nation’s American flag was flown in battle for the first time, during a Revolutionary War skirmish at Cooch’s Bridge, Delaware on this day in history, Sept. 3, 1777, according to History.com.
“Patriot General William Maxwell ordered the Stars and Stripes banner was raised as a detachment of his infantry and cavalry met an advance guard of British and Hessian troops,” the same source said.
Ultimately, the rebels were defeated and retreated to General George Washington’s force near Brandywine Creek in Pennsylvania.
The new national flag, which became known as the “Stars and Stripes,” was based on the “Grand Union” flag — a banner carried by the Continental Army in 1776 that consisted of 13 red and white stripes, according to Politico.
At that point in history, in a report to the delegates, Charles Thompson, the secretary of the Continental Congress, stated that the white in the flag “signifies purity and innocence,” the red “hardiness and valor” and the blue “signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice,” the same source chronicled.
Several flag designs with 13 stripes were used in 1776 and 1777, until Congress established an official design on June 14, 1777 — now observed as Flag Day, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The act stated, “That the Flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white, that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation,” according to several sources.
At that proud time in our nation’s history, General Washington shared his sentiments: “We take the stars from heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing liberty,” noted the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia seamstress, designed the new canton for the Stars and Stripes, which consisted of a circle of 13 stars and a blue background, at the request of General Washington, as folklore has held.
Historians have been unable to prove or disprove this legend conclusively, the same source recounted.
The principal acts affecting the flag of the United States are the following, according to the Smithsonian.
The Flag Resolution of June 14, 1777, stated the following: “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.”
The Act of January 13, 1794, provided for 15 stripes and 15 stars after May 1795.
The Act of April 4, 1818, provided for 13 stripes and one star for each state, to be added to the flag on July 4 following the admission of each new state.
The 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.
The Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated Jan. 3, 1959, provided for the arrangement of the stars in seven rows of seven stars each, staggered horizontally and vertically.
The Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated Aug. 21, 1959, provided for the arrangement of the stars in nine rows of stars staggered horizontally and 11 rows of stars staggered vertically.
In 1949, Congress officially designated June 14 as Flag Day as a national day of observance.
On June 14, 1877, the first Flag Day observance was held on the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the Stars and Stripes.
Today, our nation’s flag remains the symbol of freedom and liberty to which Americans recite the “Pledge of Allegiance.”
The flag’s 13 alternating red and white stripes represent the 13 original colonies.
Its 50 white stars on a blue field represent the 50 states, says USA.gov.
The colors on the flag each have a meaning, noted the same source:
The United States flag flies at half-staff or at half-mast when the nation or a state is in mourning.
The president, a state governor, or the mayor of the District of Columbia can order flags to fly at half-staff, said U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Most often, this marks the death of a government official, military member or first responder, a national tragedy, Memorial Day or another national day of remembrance, reported USA.gov.