Hail to the Red, White and Blue
Posted June 13, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH — Happy Birthday to the U.S. flag. Today is the 221st anniversary of the adoption of the American flag. To mark the day, many people display the country's colors outside homes and shops.
Years ago, there were parades, and the day was part of the patriotic trio that included Memorial Day and Fourth of July.
The Continental Congress chose the design, and the first Flag Day was first celebrated on its 100th birthday in 1877. But it wasn't until Harry Truman that Flag Day was made a day of national observance. Still, Americans don't get the day off, but Pennsylvania recognizes it as a state holiday.
Pennsylvania Cable Network programming this weekend includes a tour of the home of Betsy Ross on Sunday. Betsy Ross is renowned for stitching together a flag for U.S. patriots during the Revolutionary War.
The flag's nickname is Old Glory, a term coined by Captain Stephen Driver, a shipmaster of Salem, Massachusetts, in 1831. As he was leaving on one of his many voyages aboard the brig Charles Doggett, some friends presented him with a beautiful flag of twenty four stars. As the banner opened to the ocean breeze for the first time, he exclaimed "Old Glory!"
The historic, now-tattered flag that flew over Fort McHenry and inspired Francis Scott Key to write The Star-Spangled Banner, has been on display at the Smithsonian Institution for many years. To protect it from dust and humidity, it has been encased in glass. To protect it from light, it is displayed for so many minutes per hour and then is covered again.
Nonetheless, the flag is undergoing much-needed restoration.
In the meantime, countless thousands of replicas wave through the the Triangle and across the country today.