The Little Book of the Flag Part 4

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The Little Book of the Flag is a Webnovel created by Eva March Tappan.
This lightnovel is currently completed.

All at once a thought seized me, like an inspiration. I sent to America for a flag. I procured flagstaff and halyards, and from my own drawings I had carved an American eagle, which was gilded and perched on top of the flag pole. Flag, eagle, and staff I concealed in the Legation, and bided my time.

Undoubtedly the greatest character Sweden has ever produced is Gustavus Adolphus. His life and deeds belong not to Sweden along, but to the world. Well, when the anniversary of the death and victory of this great captain of the Swedish host came round,–the 6th of November, 1883,–and when the great choral societies of Stockholm, bearing banners and followed by vast mult.i.tudes of the Swedish populace, marched through the streets of Sweden’s capital, and gathered about the mausoleum on the Island of Knights, where lies the mighty dead, sang paeans in his praise, then it happened, somehow, that, regardless of precedent or custom, the flag of the free republic–aye! flag, flagstaff, golden eagle, and all–was run out from the American Legation; and the starry banner of America waved in unison with the yellow cross of Sweden, in honor of the mightiest warrior for the freedom of our faith.

This act was everywhere approved in Sweden. It was praised by both the people and the press. After this, it may well be believed, the flag of America floated unchallenged in the capital of the Northland. It waved on high on the birthday of Washington, on that Memorial Day when we decorate the graves of our brave boys in blue who saved the Union, and on the Fourth of July, that gave the Republic birth. But I hoisted our flag impartially, on Swedish holidays as well as our own; and the Stars and Stripes floated out as proudly on the birthday of King Oscar as on that of Washington.

“If any man attempts to haul down the American flag, shoot him on the spot,” commanded General Dix; but the United States may well be proud of having herself hauled down her flag on one occasion not many years ago.

After the Spanish-American War had been fought, the treaty of peace with Spain put Cuba into the hands of the United States, and the star-spangled banner was raised and saluted. This was in 1899. The three years following this act were busy ones with the War Department, for in its control was left the management of all Cuban affairs. Cuba was cleaned up, the yellow fever stamped out, schools were established, peace restored, a const.i.tution adopted by the people, and a president elected. May 20, 1902, was the date set for the sovereignty of Cuba to pa.s.s into the hands of the Cubans. The island had been made free, and now she was coming to her own. Havana was in her best. Flags floated from every house. Ships displayed both the American and the Cuban flags.

When the moment arrived, General Leonard Wood read the transfer, and the President-elect signed it in the name of the new Republic. To free Cuba from oppression the United States had entered into war. Our country sought nothing for itself, and now the freedom of the island was attained, and the American forces were to be withdrawn.

After the signing of the transfer Governor-General Wood loosened the halyards and the star-spangled banner was lowered, having accomplished n.o.bly that for which it had been raised. As it sank slowly down the Union salute of forty-five guns was fired. Then, by the hands of General Wood, the Cuban flag was hoisted to its position and floated proudly over a free country. A national salute of twenty-one guns was fired in its honor, and the history of the Cuban Republic had begun.

As the _New York Sun_ said, “No country ever before conquered a territory at great sacrifice to set up a government other than its own.”

In the hands of Admiral Robert E. Peary our flag has won the honors of the Northland. Many others had gone _far_ north; for Peary it was reserved to go _farthest_ north, to the Pole itself. This was no chance success, brought about by fine equipment and favorable weather; it was the fair result of careful preparation and hard work. The Admiral wrote in his journal:–

The Pole at last! The prize of three centuries, my dream and goal for twenty years, mine at last! I cannot bring myself to realize it.

It all seems so simple and commonplace. As Bartlett said when turning back, when speaking of his being in these exclusive regions, which no mortal had ever penetrated before, “It is just like every day!”

A little later, in acknowledging with grat.i.tude the generous aid which he had received, the Admiral wrote:–

Their a.s.sistance has enabled me to tell the last of the great earth stories, the story the world has been waiting to hear for three hundred years–the story of the discovery of the North Pole.

Such is the history of the flag of the United States of America from the time when a little group of colonies dared to raise their own standard and oppose their feeble strength and their slender resources to the trained armies and the ample wealth of England.

This was a century and a half ago. The Republic has come of age and has accepted her rightful share of the responsibilities of the world. The mother country rejoiced to do her honor, and on one brilliant April morning in 1917 the cities of England flung out her banner beside their own. In London the Stars and Stripes were everywhere–in the hands of the people in the streets, on private houses, on public buildings, even on the “Victory Tower” of Westminster Palace, where before that day no other flag save the Union Jack or the royal standard had ever been raised. In the historic cathedral of St. Paul four thousand people had come together to thank G.o.d for the alliance between the mother country and her eldest child, that in this war of the world “they should go forth and try the matter in fight by the help of G.o.d”–to quote the text of the Bishop of London. The two flags, of Great Britain and of the United States of America, hung side by side over the chancel rail. The thousands of people rose with reverence and sang, first, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and then, “G.o.d Save the King.” And so it was that Great Britain and the United States took their stand shoulder to shoulder in the world-wide struggle to make sure “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”



Except the cross there is nothing that the American should hold more sacred than the flag of the United States, because of its record in peace and in war, and because it stands for the rights and the freedom of one hundred million citizens.

“Sign of a nation great and strong, To ward her people from foreign wrong.”

There are definite rules in regard to the use of the flag. The following are the most necessary to know:–

The flag should be raised at sunrise and lowered at sunset. It should not be left out at night unless under fire. It should not be allowed to touch the ground. If possible, a pole rather than a staff should be used.

In raising a flag to half-mast or half-staff, it should be run to the top of the pole, and then lowered the width of the flag. Before being retired, it should be run to the top again. On Memorial Day the flag should be at half-mast until noon, and at the peak from noon until sunset.

When the flag goes by, rise if you are sitting; halt if you are walking, and take off your hat.

In decorating, never drape the flag; always hang it flat. The Union should be at the observer’s left, whether the stripes are perpendicular or horizontal. If our flag is crossed with the flags of other countries, or carried in a parade beside them, it should always be at the right.

In unveiling a monument, the flag should never be allowed to drop to the ground, but so arranged that it can be drawn up and will then float over the monument.

If draped over a casket, the blue field should be at the head. If used as the covering of an altar, nothing except the Bible should be placed upon it, and the union should be at the right.

Distress at sea is indicated by hanging the flag union down.

Always stand when “The Star-Spangled Banner” is played.

For those people who, whether maliciously or ignorantly, show any disrespect to the flag, strenuous laws have been pa.s.sed in most of the States. In Ma.s.sachusetts, a post of the Grand Army or a camp of Spanish War veterans may put the name of the organization upon the flag, but no other lettering is permitted. Any one who mutilates the flag or in any way treats it with contempt is likely to fare worse than did John Endicott in colonial days. The same respect is required to be shown to the flags of all countries with which the United States is at peace.

The representation of the flag must not be used to advertise merchandise, but it may be used on any publication designed to give information about the flag, or to promote patriotism, or to encourage the study of American history.

June 14, the anniversary of the day in 1777 on which the flag was adopted, has been chosen as “Flag Day.”

The length of a flag should be very nearly twice its height, or, to be exact, in the proportion of 1.9 to 1. The length of the union should be three fourths the height of the whole flag; the height of the union should be that of seven stripes.

Perhaps a little fancifully, a star has been a.s.signed to each State in the order of its ratification of the Const.i.tution and admission to the Union. Beginning at the left upper corner and reading each row from left to right, the stars of the separate States are as follows:–

_First row_

Delaware December 7, 1787 Pennsylvania December 12, 1787 New Jersey December 18, 1787 Georgia January 2, 1788 Connecticut January 9, 1788 Ma.s.sachusetts February 6, 1788 Maryland April 28, 1788 South Carolina May 23, 1788

_Second row_

New Hampshire June 21, 1788 Virginia June 25, 1788 New York July 26, 1788 North Carolina November 21, 1789 Rhode Island May 29, 1790 Vermont March 4, 1791 Kentucky June 1, 1792 Tennessee June 1, 1796

_Third row_

Ohio February 19, 1803 Louisiana April 30, 1812 Indiana December 11, 1816 Mississippi December 10, 1817 Illinois December 3, 1818 Alabama December 14, 1819 Maine March 15, 1820 Missouri August 10, 1821

_Fourth row_

Arkansas June 15, 1836 Michigan January 26, 1837 Florida March 3, 1845 Texas December 29, 1845 Iowa December 28, 1846 Wisconsin May 29, 1848 California September 9, 1850 Minnesota May 11, 1858

_Fifth row_

Oregon February 14, 1859 Kansas January 29, 1861 West Virginia June 19, 1863 Nevada October 31, 1864 Nebraska March 1, 1867 Colorado August 1, 1876 North Dakota November 2, 1889 South Dakota November 2, 1889

_Sixth row_

Montana November 8, 1889 Washington November 11, 1889 Idaho July 3, 1890 Wyoming July 10, 1890 Utah January 4, 1896 Oklahoma November 16, 1907 New Mexico January 6, 1912 Arizona February 14, 1912

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