Sunday, August 10, 2014

Missouri Statehood

Missouri, the 24th state in the Union, was admitted on this date in 1821. The 24-star flag, introduced on July 4, 1822, would remain the standard for the United States for 14 years, until the 25th star for Arkansas was added in 1836. During the time of this edition of the flag, the term "Old Glory" was first used by Captain William Driver, commander of the whaling vessel Charles Doggett.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Purple Heart

The Badge of Military Merit, which would eventually become the Purple Heart, was established by General George Washington on August 7, 1782 and awarded to three Revolutionary War soldiers. It was not awarded again until after World War I and, having not been formally abolished, is the oldest military award still given in the United States.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


On this date in 1945, the United States dropped the first atomic bomb used in combat on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, causing possibly as many as 80,000 deaths, with thousands more later from radiation and other illnesses. While many still debate the morality of the use of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there is no doubt that, had the Japanese not surrendered following the dropping of the bombs, the Allied invasion of Japan, scheduled to begin on November 1, 1945, would have likely caused millions of casualties on both sides before Japan would have capitulated.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Damn The Torpedoes! Full Speed Ahead!

It was during the Battle of Mobile Bay on August 5, 1864, when Admiral David Farragut ordered what would eventually be a successful run through a minefield and eventually lead to an important Union victory and the capture of Mobile Bay, the final Confederate-held port east of the Mississippi River. When Farragut, lashed to the rigging in order to see above the smoke of the battle, saw his ships slow as they approached and was told there were torpedoes (mines) in their path, he was reported to have said, "Damn the torpedoes! Go ahead!" or "Full speed ahead!" No one is sure exactly what Farragut said that day, but the saying became part of naval tradition and lore from that point forward.

Monday, August 4, 2014

United States Coast Guard

On August 4, 1790, the United States Revenue Cutter Service was established by Alexander Hamilton, and eventually evolved into the United States Coast Guard. Today, we raise the current version of the Coast Guard Ensign in honor of all who serve.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Nautilus And The North Pole

On this date in 1958, the USS Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine, became the first naval vessel to reach the North Pole, having traveled under the icepack from the Barrow Sea across the North Pole and eventually surfacing north of Greenland. SSN-571 would be decommissioned in 1980, declared a National Historic Landmark in 1982, and is now a museum ship in Groton, Connecticut.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Signing Of The Declaration Of Independence

Although some historians disagree, it is generally believed that most of the signatures on the Declaration of Independence were signed on this date in 1776, following the printing of the official copy of the Declaration earlier in July. 56 delegates signed the Declaration on August 2nd, pledging "our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor" to the cause of American liberty.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Colorado Statehood

Colorado, the 38th state to join the Union, was admitted on August 1, 1876. It was the first state admitted following the country's centennial. The 38-star flag would be the country's standard for 13 years after its unveiling on July 4, 1877.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Marinus Willett Birthday

Today we celebrate the birthday of one of the leaders of the Sons Of Liberty, Marinus Willett. Willett participated and also led in many battles throughout the Revolutionary War, eventually becoming a New York state assemblyman, then sheriff and later mayor of New York City. We fly the Sons Of Liberty flag today in his honor.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

New York Statehood

Today is Statehood Day for New York, which became the 11th state to adopt the Constitution on this day in 1788. New York City was the national capital until 1790, and was also the site of George Washington's first inauguration as President.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Birthday of Henry Knox

Today we celebrate the birth of Henry Knox, the first Secretary of War for the United States under George Washington. As chief artillery officer of the Continental Army, he was in charge of the "Noble Train of Artillery" and also participated in many key battles during the Revolutionary War. Knox was also a supporter of the Sons Of Liberty, whose flag we raise in Knox's honor today.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Passing Of U.S. Grant

On this date in 1885, Ulysses S. Grant died at the age of 63. Commanding General of the United States at the end of the Civil War and 18th President of the United States for two terms, Grant was financially destitute near the end of his life. Suffering from throat cancer, Grant completed his memoirs, Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant,  just prior to his death. Grant's book has been hailed as one of the greatest non-fiction books in American history, and the success of his memoirs restored his family's wealth.

Monday, July 21, 2014

First Bull Run

On July 21, 1861, the First Battle of Bull Run (or First Manassas, as the Confederates referred to it) was fought outside of Washington D.C. in Virginia. Expecting the war to be a brief conflict to put down the rebellion, the Union Army instead was defeated at Bull Run and retreated in shambles to Washington. After the battle, both sides realized the Civil War would be a longer, bloodier conflict than most had previously expected.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Apollo 11

Today marks one of the greatest milestones in human and American history when, on July 20, 1969, the lunar module of the Apollo 11 mission containing Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin landed sucessfully on the surface of the Moon. Armstrong and Aldrin would explore the lunar surface for a few hours the following day, and all three astronauts (including command capsule pilot Michael Collins) would return to Earth on July 24th.

Friday, July 18, 2014

I Have Not Yet Begun To Fight

July 18, 1792 is the date of John Paul Jones' death in France, following his service to the United States during the Revolutionary War (along with brief service to Russia afterward). During the Revolutionary War, he commanded Ranger in the defeat of HMS Drake, then later commanded Bonhomme Richard in the battle with HMS Serapis. Although Jones captured Serapis, the Richard sank following the battle, and Jones sailed the Serapis to Holland. To help Jones avoid charges of piracy, the "Serapis Flag" was entered into Dutch records as the flag he flew when he captured the ship, and it became known later as the "John Paul Jones Flag". Buried in France following his death, his remains were exhumed in 1905 and moved to the United States in 1906, finally interred at the United States Naval Academy.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Culpeper Minutemen

On July 17, 1775, The Culpeper Minutemen were organized in Virginia during the Revolutionary War. The Minutemen, including John Marshall, future Chief Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court, participated in the battles of Hampton and Great Bridge late in 1775 before being disbanded in January 1776. They are remembered also for their distinctive company flag, which we raise in their honor today.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The First Admiral

On July 16, 1862, David Farragut became the first man in American history to be promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral in the United States Navy, in recognition of his actions in helping to capture New Orleans earlier in the year during the Civil War. He would later be promoted to vice admiral and then admiral prior to his death in 1870, also the first man to hold those ranks in the Navy as well.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Strenuous Life

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in that grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."

"If we stand idly by, if we seek merely swollen, slothful ease and ignoble peace, if we shrink from the hard contests where men must win at hazard of their lives and at the risk of all they hold dear, then the bolder and stronger peoples will pass us by, and will win for themselves the domination of the world."

-Theodore Roosevelt, in a speech in Chicago, April 1899 (Wikiquotes)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Birth Of Gerald Ford

The 38th President of the United States, Gerald R. Ford, was born on this date in 1913 in Nebraska, and was the first person to hold the office of President of the United States without receiving any electoral votes - he had been appointed to the Vice Presidency in December, 1973 following the resignation of Spiro Agnew, and assumed the Presidency in August, 1974 following Richard Nixon's resignation. An Eagle Scout and longtime congressman from Michigan, he was also the last surviving member of the Warren Commission, which investigated the assassination of President Kennedy. Today, we raise the Michigan state flag, the state where Ford spent most of his life and represented in Congress.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Northwest Ordinance

On July 13, 1787, the Congress of the Confederation of the United States (the congress operating under the Articles of Confederation) authorized the Northwest Ordinance, which covered the territory northwest of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River, including five future states (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin) and portions of the future state of Minnesota. The Ordinance set legal precedent as to how territories would eventually be admitted as new states rather than extensions of current states, and how the United States would expand westward. The Ordinance was later affirmed by the United States Congress under the Constitution and signed into law by George Washington in 1789.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Medal Of Honor

On July 12, 1862, President Lincoln signed into law a bill creating the Army Medal of Honor. Members of the other branches of the military became eligible to receive this medal in 1915, followed by the Air Force in 1956. While there are three different versions of the medal (Army, Navy and Air Force), the Medal of Honor remains the highest military award in the United States. In 2002, the Medal of Honor flag was authorized to be given to all recipients of the Medal, the first of which (according to Wikipedia) was Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith (posthumously) by President Bush in 2006 to Smith's family.

Friday, July 11, 2014

John Quincy Adams

Today is the birthday of John Quincy Adams, born in 1767 and the son of John and Abigail Adams, who served as the sixth President of the United States, along with serving as a diplomat, Secretary of State, senator and member of the House of Representatives. Today's flag is the flag of Massachusetts, Adams' home state.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Wyoming Statehood

On July 10, 1890, Wyoming became the 44th state in the Union. The 44-star flag remained the standard for the United States for five years, beginning in 1891.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Birth Of Admiral David Farragut

July 5th is the birthday of Admiral David Farragut, the first man to hold the ranks of rear admiral, vice admiral and admiral in the United States Navy. Farragut is notable particularly for his actions during the Civil War, including the capture of New Orleans in 1862. He continued to be on active duty until his death in 1870.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security....

...We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Idaho Statehood

Idaho, the 43rd state admitted to the Union, was admitted on this date in 1890, receiving their star on the 43-star flag the following day along with the Dakotas, Montana and Washington. It was the first change to the United States flag in 13 years.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


July 2, 1863 was the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War, one of the most well-known battles of the conflict. It was on this day that Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and the 20th Maine would make their stand on Little Round Top to defend the position and help save the Army of the Potomac from defeat. The battle would be won by the Union on July 3, the day of Pickett's failed charge at the Union lines.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Caesar Rodney's Ride

With the Delaware delegation deadlocked on the question of approving the Declaration of Independence in the Continental Congress, Caesar Rodney rode 70 miles in a thunderstorm the night of July 1, 1776 to arrive in Philadelphia as the vote for independence began the next morning. Rodney cast the deciding vote for Delaware in favor of independence, and would eventually sign the Declaration on August 2, 1776. Rodney's ride is depicted on the back of the Delaware quarter, issued in 1999.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Granite Mountain Hot Shots

One year ago today, 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots wildland fire crew died during the Yarnell Hill fire in central Arizona. We in Prescott will pause today to remember our fallen heroes.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Molly Pitcher

On this day in 1778, General George Washington issued a warrant to Mary "Molly" Hays, making her a non-commissioned officer in the Continental Army, for her bravery during the Battle of Monmouth the previous day. During the battle, Molly carried water to the troops in the field. When her husband collapsed while manning one of the cannon, Molly took his place, continuing to swab and load the cannon through the remainder of the battle, despite having one British cannonball pass between her legs but doing nothing more than removing the bottom portion of her petticoats.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Fort Moultrie

On June 28, 1776, several British warships attacked an incomplete and unnamed fort near Charleston, South Carolina. William Moultrie and his men held off the British attack throughout the day, damaging many of the warships before the British withdrew later that night. During the battle, Moultrie flew a flag of his design, which has now become known as the Moultrie Flag. The fort was soon named Fort Moultrie in honor of the man who led the southern Colonists to victory.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Flag History: Two More Stripes

While the number of stars in the United States flag has changed 27 times through history, from the placing of 13 stars in the original "Betsy Ross" flag to today's 50-star variant (in place for almost 54 years, the longest of all American flags), the number of stripes has only changed twice. The number was increased from 13 to 15 stripes in 1795 (along with 15 stars) upon the admission of Vermont and Kentucky to the Union. Following the admission of five more states, the number of stripes was reduced back to 13 in 1820 to honor the original 13 colonies while five more stars were added to the blue field.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Berlin Airlift

On June 26, 1948, the first American C-47 cargo aircraft were launched to supply West Berlin in what would eventually be known as the Berlin Airlift, following the Soviet Union's closure of water and land corridors between the western Allies sectors of occupied Germany and Berlin. Planes from the American, British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and South African Air Forces would eventually participate in the Airlift, flying over 200,000 flights over the next 11 months before the blockade was lifted.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Virginia Statehood and Remembering General Arnold

Today is Statehood Day for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the 10th state to join the Union in 1788.
 Today is also the birthday of General Henry Arnold, the only man to hold the rank of five-star general in two different services - the Army and the Air Force. He was taught how to fly by the Wright Brothers, and eventually founded the RAND Corporation and was one of the founders of Pan Am.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Okinawa Victory

On this day in 1945, after nearly three months of bloody conflict, the Battle of Okinawa ended in an American victory, securing the final island needed for the imminent invasion of Japan, scheduled for later in the fall of 1945. 12,500 Americans lost their lives in the battle, along with 35,000 wounded.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

New Hampshire and the Constitution

Today is statehood day for New Hampshire, the ninth state to ratify the United States Constitution and, in doing so, making the Constitution the law of the land beginning on this date in 1788.

Friday, June 20, 2014

West Virginia Joins The Union

West Virginia, the only state formed from within the borders of another state, joined the Union on this day in 1863 following the secession of several counties from Confederate Virginia as the 35th state. West Virginia would be one of only two states formed during the Civil War (the second was Nevada).

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Union Victory At Sea

On this day in 1864, the USS Kearsarge sank the CSS Alabama in the eastern Atlantic, ending the Alabama's two-year assault against shipping and other Union vessels around the world. Today we fly the Navy Jack in honor of the Kearsarge and her crew's victory.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Declaration of War

The United States formally declared war on Great Britain on this day in 1812, beginning the second conflict between the two nations. In the next two-and-a-half years, the United States and Great Britain would fight to a draw, but not before victories for both sides, including the burning of Washington by the British, and the victories at Fort McHenry and New Orleans by the Americans. The Star-Spangled Banner, which was the national standard during the war, is raised on this day.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Battle Of Bunker Hill

One of the more famous of the early battle of the Revolutionary War took place on this day in 1775 when the Colonial Army faced the British at the battle of Bunker Hill. Although it was a British victory in the end, the American colonists inflicted much heavier casualties on the British than they suffered, and proved to the British they could - and would - stand up against the British army. Today's flag is known as the Bunker Hill flag.

Monday, June 16, 2014

A House Divided

On this day in 1858, Abraham Lincoln, the newly-minted Republican candidate for the United States Senate, addressed the Illinois Republican convention in Springfield. His remarks included some of his more well-known words:

"A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other."

Although he lost the Senate seat to Stephen Douglas, he would become President of the United States only two years later, presiding over a house divided during most of his time in office. Today we honor Lincoln with the Illinois state flag.