Our American Flag

By The Reader's Turn
The Reader's Turn
The Reader's Turn
June 21, 2021 Updated: June 23, 2021

I’m going to take you on a historical journey back to the birth of our beloved stars and stripes. First, I must dispel a myth. Betsy Ross did not sew the first American flag. The first American flag was designed by George Washington in 1776 to mark the start of the Continental Army. The flag consisted of a Union Jack in the upper left-hand corner; the rest of the field was filled with 13 alternating stripes of red and white. It was known as the Continental Colors. One year later, the Continental Congress passed a flag resolution that was just one sentence long. “The flag should have 13 stripes, alternating red and white and 13 white stars in a field of blue.” It never stated, though, how the stars should be arranged. Over the years, the stars and stripes had many looks and finally morphed into the flag we see today.

Here are some other interesting facts about our cherished stars and stripes.

  1. The American flag is the first flag to represent the people.
  2. It’s the only flag to have a national anthem written for it.
  3. Why the colors red, white, and blue? The truth may never be known, but the prevailing theory is two-fold. First, the colors were taken directly from the Union Jack. Second, is that the blue stood for courage, the white for purity of the event, and the red for the sacrifice of the many.
  4. The familiar sight of American flags flying from front yards across our great nation wasn’t always so. The flag-waving exuberance that you see when we celebrate national holidays such as Memorial Day, Flag Day, July 4th, etc., never existed. That all changed on April 12, 1861, when the Confederate Army bombed Fort Sumter and tore the country apart. The people in the north, to show support for their troops, displayed the American flag in front of their homes.

I wrote the following as a tribute to our stars and stripes:

Old glory, old glory flying high, your field of blue with 50 stars of white tells in part what we are like.

Each star has its own light, but in a field of blue they all unite.

The crimson and white of 13 stripes is in honor of the pain and strife of the 13 colonies to unite.

That Fort Sumter’s night our star-spangled banner stood high and bright to dawn’s early light, so did Sir Frances Scott Key write.

Today our flag, our national symbol, is 50 stars strong. It embodies the free spirit of our nation. Our stars and stripes embody our free spirit. It recognizes honor to those who died so she may fly.

I’m sorry, but I have to say this point-blank: Why aren’t you flying our flag in front of your home, on a pole or a flag just stuck in your front lawn? I drive my block and through my town and rarely do I see a flag to be found. I know in this free democracy we have freedom of expression, so yes, you don’t have to fly the American flag, but could you tell me why?

Please, this Flag Day, honor our national symbol. Embrace its rich and glorious past and, to ensure its future, be a part of America that displays the embodiment of a land that is free, a land of opportunity for all.

Flag Day is June 14.


Walter Sosnosky


The Reader's Turn
The Reader's Turn