Flag Day: Miss Purdy and the Red, White & Blue

By Karen Whiting

We will sing for joy over your victory, And in the name of our God we will set up our banners. May the Lord fulfill all your petitions. Psalm 20:5 NASB

My father was part of an ancient Fife and Drum Corp for many years. When Dad wasn’t marching in a parade, he watched them with us. We stood proudly and saluted as our flag passed by.

I also listened to my father talk about his days in the army during World War II and learned to honor the flag and view it as a symbol of freedom. It has a long history and many changes as the nation grew and added more stars to reflect new states.

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed the following resolution:

Resolved, that the Flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation.[1]

Our banner has brought hope through the years, especially in time of battle. In June 1813, Colonel Armstead ordered the making of our flag ‘so large that the British will have no difficulty seeing it.’ Mary Pickersgill sewed for many days to complete the flag. Her daughter Caroline Pickersgill Purdy watched her mother work and later wrote:

The flag being so very large, mother was obliged to obtain permission from the proprietors of Claggetts brewery which was in our neighborhood, to spread it out in their malt house; and I remember seeing my mother down on the floor, placing the stars: after the completion of the flag, she superintended the topping of it, having it fastened in the most secure manner to prevent its being torn away by (cannon) balls: the wisdom of her precaution was shown during the engagement: many shots piercing it, but it still remained firm to the staff. Your father (Col. Armistead) declared that no one but the maker of the flag should mend it, and requested that the rents should merely be bound around.[2]

The flag that flew over Fort McHenry, half the size of a basketball court, dodged cannonballs, and remained to inspire Francis Scott Key’s words that became known as the Star Spangled Banner, our national anthem.

Hang the flag and wear the colors of the flag to show your patriotism. Talk about the flag to your children and grandchildren so they will also learn to honor our flag and what it represents.

Dear Lord, continue to bless our country and those who serve our nation. Help us be grateful for the freedoms we enjoy.

 

Karen Whiting is an international speaker, former television host, and author of twenty-three books including Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front. Visit her at www.karenwhiting.com.

 

[1] June 14, 1777, in Journals of the Continental Congress. A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875

[2] Waters, The New-England Historical and Genealogical Register, 30.