American Symbols: Does ‘Old Glory’ stir your blood?

https://readthespirit.com/ourvalues/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2013/03/wpid-dc_9_11_related_Pentagon_flag_Old_Glory_moving_from_Smithsonian_display.jpgTHIS “OLD GLORY” is a 20-by-38-foot flag that soldiers and firefighters hung from the Pentagon’s roof after the attacks on 9/11/2001. For weeks, the flag was displayed while teams removed bodies and cleared the debris. From 2002 to 2006, this “Old Glory” was displayed at the Smithsonian exhibition on 9/11 responses. In 2006, this flag was placed in a U.S. armed forces archive.

https://readthespirit.com/ourvalues/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2013/03/wpid-dc_Willim_Driver_original_Old_Glory_flag.jpgTHIS IS THE ORIGINAL “OLD GLORY,” owned by William Driver and displayed both at sea and later in the Civil War as an inspiring Union symbol.Today is Flag Day—the day that commemorates the adoption of the American flag on this day in 1777. It’s not an official federal holiday (so you don’t get the day off from work) but it is an official observance. I admit that Flag Day is not an observance I routinely remember. The only reason I know that today is Flag Day is that it appeared in my Blackberry, thanks to an app that loads holidays and observances into my calendar—and a story about Flag Day popped up in ReadTheSpirit’s Holidays column.

Flag Day is a bigger deal in some places than others. Some communities give small American flags to their schoolchildren to carry throughout the day. According to various sources, the oldest Flag Day parade takes place in Fairfield, Washington, and the largest in Troy, New York.

Do you observe Flag Day? Does your community do anything special to celebrate it?

In researching today’s OurValues article, I learned even more about this symbol we often call “Old Glory.” That nickname for the flag turns up in various eras of American history, including the post-9/11 exhibition shown in the photo above. But, that’s not where “Old Glory” originated. Did you know that “Old Glory” actually began with a 19th-century sea captain, William Driver, from Salem, Massachusetts? The flag was a gift from his mother and some young women in Salem. He flew it first from his whaling ship when he circled the globe. Years later, he retired in Nashville, Tennessee, where his flag became a popular landmark. He hid Old Glory when the Civil War broke out and the South controlled Tennessee, but later he was able to fly the flag and it became a nationally famous symbol. (Click here for more details about Old Glory.

Throughout many eras, the flag has been a potent American symbol. This week on OurValues.org, we’ll talk about the special role symbols play in America.

For now, let me ask you these questions: Do you feel proud when you see Old Glory fly? Does it stir your blood? What does the flag mean to you?

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(Originally posted in www.OurValues.org)

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