Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Grand Old Flag

So, today was Flag Day. Of course, you were paying attention, even though this is not one of those holidays that we shift to the beginning of the week and give the post office the day off.

Ok, actually it isn't Flag Day, it's National Flag Day, in order to separate it from all those other wannabee flags for the state or those 12th Man flags that the Seahawks were partial to. And we're sure this time that the day is right, since the 2nd Continental Congress approved it on this day in 1777. This means that our flag is older than our Constitution (and thereby, officially, our government) by nearly a dozen years.

Of course, being a national holiday, there are a number of different contenders who claim the right of creating it. Fredonia, Wisconsin had a "Flag Birthday" on this date in 1885 and thereafter. Another claim, dating from 1888, gives the laurel to Colliers Township, PA. And even Hartford Connecticut, gets into the act with a claim from 1861 (which comes by way of Kansas, but there you go).

Even the question of WHAT flag we're celebrating is in a bit of a muddle. Since the official word was 13 stripes, alternating red and white, with 13 white stars in a blue field in a new constellation, there have been a number of contenders, ranging from the traditional ring of the "Betsy Ross" flag, to twelve stars at the clock-points and a center star of the Third Maryland Regiment to the Bennington Flag with a rainbow of stars over the number "76" with two more stars in the corners. Indeed, the US flag has been under evolution for longer than we've been a nation, which is sort of encouraging, since even our flags get the occasional upgrade.

And probably the only thing that's kept the US at its present size for nearly fifty years is that we haven't figured out how to design one with 51 stars.

More later.