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I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
I am sure you all know that and have repeated it many times during your lifetimes. It was written by Francis Bellamy in 1892 for the National School Celebration in honor of Columbus’ 400th anniversary of blundering onto the islands southeast of North America.
The trips of the Vikings almost 500 years before were completely forgotten and still are, but that’s another story.
There have been some changes since. First came a few changes in 1923 and 1924 but the encyclopedia didn’t say what they were.
Then, on May 1, 1954, when I was a senior in high school came the “under God” phrase, supposedly to show that the United States was a religious country instead of like the Communist countries which didn’t allow religion of any kind.
The reason I am writing about this is because today, June 14, is Flag Day, the 241st anniversary of the act by the Continental Congress that created a design for a universal flag for the new country.
Until that date there were many flags flying over what was to become the United States. There were close to a dozen, maybe more, flown by various groups fighting for independence from Great Britain.
Of course, the first flag was the Viking flag of Leif Ericsson around the year 1000. Then came Columbus’ personal flag and the flag of Ferdinand and Isabella representing Spain in 1492.
After that was the French fleur de lis, John Cabot’s personal flag and the British Union Jack, the Dutch East Indies Company in old New Amsterdam and the Russian-American Trading Company in Alaska.
Then came the flag voted for Congress with 13 stripes starting with red from the top and ending with red at the bottom and the blue field with the 13 stars.
We had major change in the striping in 1795 when two stripes were added as well as two stars for the two states that had come in at that time.
Then, in 1818, with five more states in the union, Congress decided to stick with 13 stripes and just add stars.
We had a few other flags in the mid 1800s.
First was the Mexican Flag of 1824 flown by Texican rebels symbolizing the constitutional government they had before Santa Anna took over and they wanted it back.
The Texas Navy had a flag with 13 red and white stripes and lone star on a blue field. There is also the Bear Republic of California which existed for a few months before the United States took it over and then come all the flags of the Confederate States of America in the 1860s.
It is interesting to look at the state flags. There is no universality to size. Some are square. Some, including Iowa, are a little short in the fly direction and Ohio has a pennant-shaped flag.
Of course, Iowa’s flag has the beautiful red, white and blue. I’m sure you all know, but has it really registered as you look at our flag?
In the white center is an American eagle flying in with a banner in its beak. On that banner are printed the words “Our Liberties We Prize and Our Rights We Will Maintain.”
Personally, I think that is a fine slogan. In looking in the encyclopedia at flags the world over I’m going to show my prejudice side. There is no flag as beautiful as our stars and stripes.
There are many that are rather bland. I like Canada’s flag, red bands on both sides with a white band down the middle with a red maple leaf in it.
Britain’s Union Jack is rather pretty. Other than those the flags of the world seem pretty drab with the exception of Scandinavia. Their flags are all different, but with the same design. They all have a cross on its side.
Denmark has a red flag with a white cross; Finland is white with a blue cross; Iceland is blue with a red cross on a white cross; Norway is red with a blue cross on a white cross; and Sweden is light blue with a yellow cross.
I hope you have enjoyed this journey through some flag history. I was glad to hear that some schools will be resurrecting Iowa history.
I learned the slogan on our flag in seventh grade in 1948, and I still remember it.