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Play ball

dkh_19.jpgDo you know what today is?

I’d like to own a baseball team. At every home game, I’d give away hundreds of flags—the American flag, state flag, and team flag. I’d eat a hot dog or a walking taco every day. I’d live in a penthouse at the park, and invite all sorts of people to come watch the game from the owner’s box, but I wouldn’t be there. I’d be down in the stands, and no one would ever notice me because I look like somebody’s grandmother.

Remember this season, no matter where the game, when they play the National Anthem, salute Old Glory, and sing along (under your breath if you need to).

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William Driver’s Flag

William Driver, born on Saint Patrick’s Day in 1803, grew up among the docks and wharves in the port city of Salem, Massachusetts. Intrigued by the stories of the sailors and fishermen, he persuaded his mother to let him ship out as a cabin boy on the sailing vessel China. He was twelve.

This first voyage did not discourage Driver, and by the age of of eighteen he became master of his first ship. An enthusiastic captain who was proud of his country, Driver flew the American flag high upon his ships.

The Original “Old Glory”

The Original “Old Glory”

For his twenty-first birthday, Driver’s mother and friends presented him with an especially well-made and durable flag—designed for a long life on the open seas—and his upcoming ninth voyage. Pleased with his new flag, William Driver immediately raised the new flag over his ship, the Charles Doggett, until the flag unfurled in the strong breeze. Deeply moved by the brilliant colors and the 24 stars, Driver said, “I’ll call her Old Glory, boys—Old Glory!”

Driver sailed all over the world, proudly flying his hand-sewn American flag.

Married and widowed, then married again, Driver retired from the sea and his ship, The Black Warrior, in 1837. At age thirty-four, Drive and his southern-born wife settled in Nashville, Tennessee.

Old Glory, carefully stored in a camphor-wood sea-chest, and William Driver became a local legend, and the sea captain earned the nickname of “Old Glory Driver.”

As the years went by, Driver ran afoul of southern war sentiments, and was forced to hide his beloved Union flag. His politics and beliefs were common knowledge, and he stood firm in his loyalty to the Union despite threats by local Confederates to confiscate the well-known Old Glory.

Though his house and grounds were repeatedly searched, those who would have destroyed Driver’s flag were never able to find it, and Driver himself refused to discuss the flag’s whereabouts.

When the Union army marched into Nashville, William Driver revealed Old Glory’s secret hiding place. He’d sewn the flag inside a purple calico comforter for safe-keeping, and soon Old Glory was flying over the the Tennessee state house.

William Driver’s Old Glory survives to this day. It has been carefully restored, and is on display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.

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Old Glory still waving the flag

Have you ever heard of Brandenburg, Texas? How about New Brandenburg? No?

That’s because the town’s name changed a long time ago—at the beginning of World War I, in fact. The German settlers in this tiny little West Texas town wanted the nation to know that they were proud to be citizens of the United States, and what better way to show it than by changing the town’s name to Old Glory.

Old Glory, Texas is on U.S. Highway 380 between the Double Mountain Fork and the Salt Fork of the Brazos River. The town is in Stonewall County, five miles from the Haskell County line, and sixty miles north of Abilene.

Development began with a few ranches and scattered farms in the late 1880s. By 1904 a group of German Americans had settled east of what is now the townsite of Old Glory. They laid out the site for the town of Brandenburg, but only a schoolhouse and a general store were constructed. Other families continued to move into the area northwest of Brandenburg.

In 1909 the Stamford and Northwestern Railway Company was chartered to build a railroad from Stamford to Spur. The Swenson Land and Cattle Company provided a townsite on the rail line two miles west of the original Brandenburg site. The name of the new town became New Brandenburg, or simply Brandenburg, and the old community then became known as Old Brandenburg.

The new town grew with the coming of the railroad, and a mercantile store, a gin, and a post office soon served the community. A one-room school was constructed. At the beginning of World War I there was strong sentiment to change the name of the town, and residents chose the name Old Glory, which became official in 1918.

The population of Old Glory has waxed and waned through the years. Now only a small remnant remains, but Old Glory flies high in Old Glory and always will, so long as one person still lives there. The community celebrates Old Glory Days each year on June 30.

sign in Old Glory, Texas

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The Daily Flag News—July 9th, 2007

The record is broken, July 5th, 12:02 AM. Last month I included an article about Robert Heft in The Daily Flag. The 50-star flag was staged to break the record for longest flying flag, and the creator of the design is still speaking and promoting the Stars and Stripes everywhere he goes.

Designer’s record-breaking flag flies high | – Houston Chronicle
robertheft-with-flag.jpgRobert Heft is a flag connoisseur. While out driving, Heft, who designed America’s official 50-star flag as a high school project in 1958, can always spot Old Glory’s red and white bars waving in front of someone’s home.

“I notice flags like a beautician notices hair or a shoe salesman notices shoes,” said Heft, 65, of Thomas Township, Mich.

At 12:02 a.m. on Thursday, Heft’s 50-star design overtook the 48-star banner as the longest-serving flag in American history, with 47 years and one minute of service.

Heft said he received numerous calls from American and foreign news agencies as the milestone day approached.

“The story is out there,” he said. “I never thought when I designed the flag that it would outlast the 48-star flag.”

A highly sought orator, Heft’s packed schedule usually includes 225 speaking engagements a year.

There’s a lot of history tied up in Old Glory. Surviving flags from our history show how men of consequence felt about the Stars and Stripes. Many are preserved or restored and found in museums for all to see, and hear the stories each one tells.

Flags tell the story of our history – Framingham, MA – The Framingham Tab
34star-us-flag.jpgFramingham -It’s flown over our heads for more than two centuries — red, white and blue, stars and stripes.

It’s been a symbol of partisan politics, and it has transcended politics.

But the American flag has rarely been a static form.

“The flag tells the story,” said Dana Ricciardi, curator of the Framingham Historical Society and Museum. She noted the famous photograph of soldiers raising a U.S. flag over the Japanese island of Iwo Jima during World War II.

She said flags are often chosen for preservation because they are emblematic of the people who carried them and flew them.

The town’s own historical flag — now on display; for years the flag was stuck in a cupboard until its discovery in 1999 — is a 34-star version flown by the 13th Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War.

The well-worn flag was carried through the battles at Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg and elsewhere — 28 Framingham residents were part of that regiment, according to Ricciardi.

I’m proud of Harold and Tammy Travitz, but saddened by the lack of outrage from others for the absence of an American flag at the 4th of July celebration. The protocol for singing the National Anthem, is to face the flag, place your hand over your heart, and sing with gusto, but that’s not what happened last week in Tracy, California.

No flag with the rockets’ red glare
harold-travitz-with-flag.jpgA Tracy man is upset that there was no flag during the Fourth of July national anthem. By Danielle MacMurchy

Glenn Moore/Tracy Press – RED, WHITE AND BLUE:Harold Travitz, who says he always displays his U.S. flag, unfurls the banner at his home on Friday. Travitz said he and his wife, Tammy, were upset by the Fourth of July celebration at Peter B. Kyne Field because there was no flag present during the singing of the national anthem.

For the past 10 years of Fourth of July holidays, Harold and Tammy Travitz have claimed the same bleacher seats near the flagpole at Tracy High’s Peter B. Kyne Field.

Travitz, who comes from a family of military men, looked forward to watching the American flag wave in the breeze at dusk before the fireworks show started this week.

But there was no flag waving at Wednesday’s evening celebration. The national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner,” was sung to an empty pole.

“Where’s the flag” the Travitz couple had yelled when the national anthem began to play.

Among the couple of hundred people in the stands, only a few others noticed or even stood, Travitz said.

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FLAG, a book by Marc Leepson

Flag, Marc LeepsonFLAG is Marc Leepson‘s splendid biography about the American flag. First published in June 2005, this is a book that every family should have in their personal library.

Leepson’s book is meticulously researched, saturated with information about our country’s flag, and delightful to read. It’s like reading about a beloved relative—you know part of the story, but not the whole story. It’s our story, both good and bad.

At present, I use five reference books when writing about flags, and Marc Leepson’s FLAG is my favorite. It’s not fair to call it a reference book though, because that might imply that it’s dry and dusty, and I give you my word—it is not. It’s a terrific, interesting book.

FLAG is the perfect summer book, as we transit the solemn remembrances of Memorial Day, to the let-every-flag-wave day of June 14, to the light-up-the-sky Fourth of July.

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Flag Week begins June 10; Flag Day June 14

Flag Day and National Flag Week, 2007

A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

White House logoThe American Flag represents freedom and has been an enduring symbol of our Nation’s ideals since the earliest days of our Nation. Wherever it flies, we are reminded of America’s unity and in the great cause of liberty and justice for all.

Two hundred and thirty years ago, the Second Continental Congress officially made the Stars and Stripes the symbol of America. The Founders declared that the 13 stars gracing the original flag represented “a new constellation,” just as America embodied new hope and new light for mankind. Today, our flag continues to convey the bold spirit of a proud and determined Nation.

Americans have long flown our flag as a sign of patriotism and gratitude for the blessings of liberty. We also pledge allegiance to the flag as an expression of loyalty to our country and to the belief in the American creed of freedom and justice. By displaying and showing respect for the flag, we honor the ideals upon which our democracy rests and show appreciation for the freedoms we enjoy today. Flying the flag can also be an expression of thanks for the men and women who have served and sacrificed in defense of our freedoms — from the early patriots of the Continental Army to the courageous Americans in uniform who are defending those freedoms around the world today.

During Flag Day and National Flag Week, we honor Old Glory and reflect on the foundations of our freedom. As citizens of this great Nation, we are proud of our heritage, grateful for our liberty, and confident in our future.

To commemorate the adoption of our flag, the Congress, by joint resolution approved August 3, 1949, as amended (63 Stat. 492), designated June 14 of each year as “Flag Day” and requested that the President issue an annual proclamation calling for its observance and for the display of the flag of the United States on all Federal Government buildings. The Congress also requested, by joint resolution approved June 9, 1966, as amended (80 Stat. 194), that the President issue annually a proclamation designating the week in which June 14 occurs as “National Flag Week” and calling upon all citizens of the United States to display the flag during that week.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim June 14, 2007, as Flag Day and the week beginning June 10, 2007, as National Flag Week. I direct the appropriate officials to display the flag on all Federal Government buildings during that week, and I urge all Americans to observe Flag Day and National Flag Week by flying the Stars and Stripes from their homes and other suitable places. I also call upon the people of the United States to observe with pride and all due ceremony those days from Flag Day through Independence Day, also set aside by the Congress (89 Stat. 211), as a time to honor America, to celebrate our heritage in public gatherings and activities, and to publicly recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-first.