Our Country's Flag
A Little of its History and of its Meaning—Some Interesting Facts.
THE LESSON—That loyalty to the flag means the fulfillment of duty to God and to our fellowmen.
"Flag Day" suggests a patriotic demonstration, and this talk will harmonize well with your decorations and the other features of your program. The talk calls for the drawing of four flags. It is suggested that you prepare in advance of the talk all four flags of Fig. 102, as the drawing may require more time than you can spare during the talk.
"We have about us today some of the flags of the United States of the present time. I believe you will be interested, though, in seeing some of the flags of our country of earlier days. I will present them to you.
"Before the Revolutionary war was begun, and at the time of the beginning of the trouble, some of the colonies had flags of their own, and some of them were very curious indeed. However, when General George Washington took command of the troops at the beginning of the war it was decided to adopt one flag for all the united colonies, and so a committee was chosen and a flag like this was designed: [Indicate flag "a."] These two crosses represented the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew, and the thirteen stripes represented the thirteen colonies. You see, they patterned the crosses after the British flag, because there was no certainty at that time that the colonists would break away from England. This is the flag that was raised over the camp of Washington at Cambridge, January 2, 1776.
(Complete Fig. 102 in chalk, in advance of beginning the talk.)
"But in 1777, after the colonies had proclaimed the Declaration of Independence, congress ordered that the flag of the thirteen United States be composed of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white, and that thirteen white stars in a field of blue be substituted for the crosses. It was also decided to add one star and one stripe as each new state was admitted. Congress, then in session in Philadelphia, named George Washington, Robert Morris and Colonel Ross to call upon a widow who had been making flags for the government and ask her to make this first real American flag. And this is the flag that Betsy Ross made: [Indicate flag "b."] It is said that Betsy Ross suggested that the stars be five-pointed, as she could fold her cloth so as to make a five-pointed star with one clip of her scissors. Can you make a five-pointed star with one clip? Betsy could! [Note: The writer has seen the simple process described in a sketch of Betsy Ross; it is too long for repetition here, but a demonstration of the method would be an interesting innovation.]
"Well, this flag was carried throughout the remainder of the Revolution, and it was present at the surrender of Burgoyne and the fall of Yorktown. But when Vermont and Kentucky were admitted as states, the flag was changed, so there were fifteen stars and fifteen stripes, like this: [Indicate flag "c."]
"This flag waved throughout the war of 1812. It was this flag that Francis Scott Key saw 'through the dawn's early light,' and which inspired him to write 'The Star-Spangled Banner.'
"It was not until 1818 that congress saw that a mistake had been made and that it would be necessary to confine the number of stripes to the original number, thirteen, though we have continued to add a star for each new state. This is the flag of today: [Indicate flag "d."]
"As we look upon this flag, our hearts grow warm with love for our country. We honor it and the memory of those who brought it into being and who died to preserve it for us. I know of no better closing picture than this, which indicates the true spirit of the patriots who died beneath its folds upon the fields of battle—a picture which speaks to us of Him who said, 'Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.' [With heavy black put in the outline of the cross; fill in with orange, completing Fig. 103.]
"Boys and girls, what does the flag stand for? Loyalty to country. What does the cross stand for? Loyalty to Christ. Which is the more important? You are not asked to answer—only to think. Being loyal to Christ makes people truly loyal to country; but, alas, there are many who profane His name while they pretend to be loyal to their country. It cannot be done."
Next: The Little Ones
Previous: The Story Of A Hat