Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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June 15th
Some Things the Flag Stands For
The Continental Congress assigned no specific meanings to the flag’s colors in 1777 when resolving that it should be red, white, and blue. Congress may have chosen those colors because they  appeared in the British flag that flew over the colonies until the Revolution. But when Congress designed the Great Seal of the United States, it gave some indication of the symbolism. Charles Thompson, secretary of the Continental Congress, stated that the seal’s colors “are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence; Red, hardiness and valor; and Blue . . . signifies vigilance, perseverance, and justice.”

As every American student learns, the flag’s stars represent the states, while the stripes stand for the thirteen original colonies. A book published by Congress adds that “the star is a symbol of the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial; the stripe is symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun.” In June 1917, as the country entered World War I, Woodrow Wilson said:

This flag, which we honor and under which we serve, is the emblem of our unity, our power, our thought and purpose as a nation. It has no other character than that which we give it from generation to generation. The choices are ours. It floats in majestic silence above the hosts that execute those choices, whether in peace or in war. And yet, though silent, it speaks to us – speaks to us of the past, of the men and women who went before us, and of the records they wrote upon it. . . . From its birth until now it has witnessed a great history, has floated on high the symbol of great events, of a great plan of life worked out by a great people.
American History Parade
1775
Congress places George Washington in command of the Continental Army.

1804
The Twelfth Amendment, requiring separate electoral votes for president and vice president, is ratified.

1836
Arkansas becomes the twenty-fifth state.

1846
The Oregon Treaty sets the 49th parallel as the U.S.-Canada boundary.

1864
Arlington National Cemetery is established.

1911
The Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, later renamed International Business Machines (IBM), is incorporated.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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