The Story of the Stars & Stripes
The story of the origin of our National flag parallels the story of the origin of our country. As our country received its birthright from the peoples of many lands who were gathered on these shores to found a new nation, so did the pattern of the Stars and Stripes rise from several origins back in the mists of antiquity to become emblazoned on the standards of our infant Republic.
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.
Both themes have long been represented on the standards of nations, from the banners of the astral worshippers of ancient Egypt and Babylon to the 12 stared flag of the Spanish Conquistadors under Cortez. Continuing in favor, they spread to the striped standards of Holland and the West India Company in the 17th century and to the present patterns of stars and stripes on the flags of several nations of Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
The first flags adopted by our Colonial forefathers were symbolic of their struggles with the wilderness of a new land. Beavers, pine trees, rattlesnakes, anchors, and various like insignia with mottoes such as Hope?, Liberty?, Appeal to Heaven? or Don’t Tread on ME? were affixed to the different banners of Colonial America.
The first flag of the colonists to have any resemblance to the present Stars and Stripes was the Grand Union flag, sometimes referred to as the “Congress Colors”. It consisted of thirteen stripes, alternately red and white, representing the Thirteen Colonies, with a blue field in the upper left hand corner bearing the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew, signifying union with the mother county. This banner was first flown by the ships of the Colonial Fleet in the Delaware River in December, 1775.
The Grand Union flag was the standard of the Continental Army when the latter came into being in January, 1776. and was also carried by Marines and American Bluejackets comprising an expeditionary force in the ?West Indies during that year.
During the previous year a canton (section) of thirteen strips appeared…..