Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

June 14, 2014

A Flag Day look at a Grand Old Flag

VALDOSTA — Perhaps you plan to raise the American flag to the top of the pole today.

Since today is Flag Day, we take a look at some of the history and etiquette of the American flag.

Why Today?

Flag Day is celebrated each year on June 14. Why? On June 14, 1777, America’s Continental Congress “resolved that the flag of the United States be made of 13 stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” Some historians believe that Congressman Francis Hopkinson most likely designed the American flag while Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross stitched the first one together but no one knows for an absolute certainty who designed or made the first American flag.

Betsy Ross

Yes, no one can guarantee that Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag. She was an actual seamstress who lived in Philadelphia in the days when that Pennsylvanian city was the American capital. She lived from 1752-1836. She was the daughter of Samuel Griscom, a Quaker carpenter, of Philadelphia. At the age of 21, she eloped with John Ross, but the marriage was shortlived. By 1777, Ross was a young widow who had taken over her husband’s upholstery shop. She would marry twice more and bear seven daughters.

In 1870, 34 years after Besty Ross’ mostly anonymous death, William J. Canby, one of her grandsons, wrote a paper about her involvement with the flag. As a boy, Canby wrote, his grandmother told him how Gen. George Washington and a committee approached her in 1776 to create a flag for the new country. George Ross, the uncle of Betsy’s first husband, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a member of the flag committee.

Supposedly, the committee showed her the design for the flag we all know — the 13 original stars in a circle, except these same stars had six points. Ross reportedly talked them into making the stars with five points.

True or false for Betsy Ross? No proof exists to neither confirm nor deny the tale, though she was an official flagmaker for the Pennsylvania Navy. But in the popular mind, Betsy Ross made that first version of the Stars and Stripes.

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