Saturday, June 14, 2008

Honoring Old Glory

In 1831, preparing for one of his many voyages* aboard the brigantine "Charles Doggett", friends presented the Salem shipmaster, Captain William Driver, with a beautiful American flag with 24 stars. Upon seeing it unfurl in the brisk Atlantic breeze, he exclaimed "Old Glory!" He retired later to Nashville (along with his flag), where word spread of "Old Glory". When the War Between The States broke out, the Confederates were keen to find and destroy the famous flag, but their many searches where to no avail. Union forces eventually secured the Tennessee State Capitol, but the troops had only a small and tattered flag to hoist. To the delight of all, Captain Driver cut through the stitches of his bed quilt to reveal the hiding place of Old Glory and he himself raised it over the Capitol. Flag etiquette dictates that unless illuminated at night, the flag is to be flown only between sunrise and sunset. Captain Driver's grave is one of only three places designated by Congress where the flag is allowed to fly 24 hours a day.

Today is Flag Day, and although various towns and villages across the nation chose to celebrate the flag, it didn't become official until a proclamtion from President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. The flag we salute was originally adopted at the second Continental Congress in 1777, and as every school child should know, Betsy Ross is credited with sewing the very first one, which she gave to General George Washington.

*It was on this voyage that Captain Driver rescued the mutineers of the "Bounty".

No comments: