Down to the sea

Barbara Dyer: Old Glory, the flag’s storied history, and proper etiquette

Tue, 05/16/2017 - 4:15pm

The symbol for love of American is respect for our flag. With Patriot's Day passed and Memorial, Flag Day and the Fourth of July coming soon, this article is about various flags that have been flown over the years and forgotten respect for the flag.

In 1775, we had four flags:

American Liberty ships from New England flew a white one with a pine tree on it and it read "An Appeal to Heaven."

The Continental Navy used a red and white striped one "Don't Tread on Me"with a snake across it.

Sons of Liberty had a red and white striped one.

A New England flag had red,white and blue stripes with a pine tree; and there was also a Forester flag of mostly red.

In 1776, we had two: The Grand Union flag with 13 red and white stripes and the British Union Jack in the upper left had corner. There was also the Betsey Ross Flag that had 13 red and white stripes and a blue corner with 13 white stars.

In 1777, there were four flags but on June 14 Continental Congress adopted the following: "Resolved: that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white, that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.

The stars represented the states from 1787 through 1790. It was the same as the Betsy Ross flag in 1776, who reportedly made the first flag.

After that, they added stars and stripes when a new state was added, but the stars were placed horizontally, with 15 stars and stripe in 1795.

In 1814 Francis Scott Key wrote "The Star Spangled Banner", that became the national anthem in 1931. However, when Maine became a state (March 15,1820), it had 23 stars but back to the 13 stripes.

It became the same when each state was added, except the stars were changed to a different pattern in 1837, 1847 and 1877.

Even after the South seceded from the Union, President Lincoln would not allow any stars to be removed from the flag.

On August 3, 1949, President Truman signed a bill requesting the President call for Flag Day (June 14), and in 1954 by act of Congress, the words "Under God" were inserted into the "Pledge of Allegiance."

When Alaska and Hawaii were added in 1959, it became the flag we have of today.


All servicemen know well the rules of respect for our flag, but many people of today have not been taught it. So as a refresher course, here are most of the standards of respect:

The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.

The flag should not be used as a drapery, or for covering a speaker's desk,draping a platform, or for any decoration in general. Red, white and blue stripes are available in buntings but the blue stripe of the bunting should be on top.

The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. The flag should not be used as part of a costume, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen or members of a patriotic organization.

The flag should not have placed on it any marks, words or drawings of any kind.

When the flag is lowered, no part should touch the ground or any other object. To store the flag, it should be folded neatly.

When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner. Most American Legion Posts regularly conduct a dignified flag burning.
When displaying, the flag from a staff projecting from a window or building, and the union should be at the peak of the staff.

From the same flagpole with another flag,the American flag must always be at the top.When displayed with another flag, it should have its honor to its own right, None may be larger,or above it. It is always the first flag raised and the last to be lowered.

It should be displayed only between sunrise and sunset. It should be illuminated if displayed at night.

When carried in a procession, the flag should be to the right of the marchers. When carried with others, the flag of the United States may be centered in front of the others. When raised or lowered, all should face the flag and salute. To salute all should come to attention and place their right hand over their heart. If in uniform, they give the appropriate formal salute.

It should not be left in the rain.

These are not laws of the land, but done out of respect.

On Memorial Day the flag is displayed at half staff until noon, and then full staff to sunset.

This is a lesson for today. Now please fly your symbol of Freedom.