American Flag – Historic Photographs

Mar 23rd, 2016

The American flag has been a symbol of the United States strength and unity, and the source of inspiration and pride of its citizens, for over 200 years.


Historically, it is said that Francis Hopkinson, a New Jersey congressman, designed the flag and that in 1776 Betsy Ross, a seamstress from Philadelphia, was the first person to sew the flag according to Hopkinson’s design. Most historians do not believe this version because there is no credible evidence to back it up.


13 Star Flag


Regardless of how the flag first came into actual being, the United States Congress authorized the creation of the American flag in June of 1777. That authorization set out how it was to be designed. The only variation in the original design has been the addition of stars as new states were admitted.


Since its birth, the American flag has played a part in some great historical moments.


1814 - Battle at Fort McHenry

Fort McHenry


British warships attacked Fort McHenry, located in Baltimore, Maryland, in September 1814. The fort was successfully defended and is the battle that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the national anthem. After the battle, Key woke to see that the American flag was intact and still waving proudly. He immediately sat down and wrote the lyrics to the national anthem. The resulting song was so well liked that it is still sung today.


The photo above is a a picture of the actual flag that was flown over Fort McHenry. It was given to the Smithsonian Institute in 1912 by the Armistead family. It has been on display at the National Museum of American History since 1964.


1898 – Battle of San Juan Hill


Rough Riders


During the Spanish-American War, Colonel Theodore Roosevelt (later President of the United States) led his regiment, dubbed the “Rough Riders”, to victory at San Juan Hill in Cuba. Many consider that battle to be the bloodiest that occurred during the war. After the victory, Roosevelt and his regiment raised the U.S. flag and posed for the photograph that became famous.


1945 – American Flag Raised at Iwo Jima


Iwo Jima First Flag               Iwo Jima Second Flag

       First Flag                                Second Flag

The battle of Iwo Jima, an island off the coast of Japan, was one of the fiercest battles that occurred during World War II. Through the efforts of the Marines, the American flag was raised by corpsmen on Mount Suribachi during the battle without being attacked by Japanese forces. The first flag that was placed was too small to be seen from the islands that surrounded the mountain so corpsmen were ordered to replace it with a larger flag. The second photo was used to create a sculpture that was placed at the Marine Corps War Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, Washington, D.C.


1969 – United States Flag Placed on the Moon


Flag on Moon


The United States as the first country to travel to, and the first to a place a country flag, on the moon. The momentous occasion occurred as a result of the Apollo 11 mission. Neil Alden Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the moon. He stood the American flag on the surface and stated “That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." The flag was then permanently planted by Armstrong and his fellow astronaut, Buzz Aldrin.


2001 Ground Zero – 9-11-01


Ground Zero


On September 1, 2001, terrorists attacked the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center in New York City resulting in over 2,000 deaths. As an act of defiance, three New York City Fire Department firemen placed the U.S. flag at the site of the destruction, or Ground Zero as it was dubbed. The famous photograph of the event was taken by Thomas E. Franklin.


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