June 14, 2012

What’s in a name?: The Old Glory story

Cpl. Jolene Bopp
Desert Warrior Staff
Top: The 13 Star Flag familiar to most Americans regarding the flag’s history. Bottom Row: The flag in various stages of its evolution. Left: The British East India Company colors, Middle: the 38 Star Flag and Right: the 26 Star Flag.

The Star Spangled Banner. Stars and Stripes. Red, White and Blue. Old Glory. The American Flag…

Most of the American Flag’s names are common sense, except for one, Old Glory. How did this term of endearment become a part of American history?

In 1831, Capt. William Driver, a shipmaster of Salem, Mass., was about to set sail on one of many voyages aboard the Charles Doggett. A few of his friends presented him with a flag of 24 stars, as the flag opened in the breeze for the first time, Driver exclaimed “Oh Glory!”

After Driver retired to Nashville, Tenn., the Civil War began.  When Tennessee seceded from the union, rebels tried to find Driver’s flag to destroy it. The union searched multiple times for Old Glory.

In 1862, Union forces regained control of Tennessee and raised the American flag over the Nashville’s capitol. The flag reminded people of Driver’s Old Glory, and they asked if he managed to hold on to it. Driver quickly went home and began tearing at his bed seems. As the quilt separated it revealed the beloved flag.

Though the retired captain was 60 years old, he found the strength and determination to climb to the top of the capitol’s tower and replaced the small flag with Old Glory, showing dedication and love for the American Flag.

The Stars and Stripes originated as a result of a resolution adopted by the Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress at Philadelphia on June 14, 1777. The resolution read:

“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 American Flag underwent many changes throughout the years, beginning with 13 stripes, representing the original 13 colonies. As most people know the stars increased in number with each new state bringing us to 50 today. Some may not know, however, that even the colors of the flag are symbolic.

“Red symbolizes hardness and valor. White symbolizes purity and innocence, while blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.”

To this day, the flag rises in times of peace and in times of war. It is given as a token of gratitude to families of those who died fighting for freedom. Americans may look to the flag in times of celebration, remembrance and hope.

Though the flag may change its appearance, one thing remains the same: it is a symbol of American pride and strength. This Flag Day, June 14, the birthday of the American Flag, let’s reflect on its meaning both historically and personally.

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