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.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Arkansas Statehood

Arkansas became the 25th state to join the Union on this date in 1836. Arkansas would get it's star on the flag later that year on July 4th, but the 25-star flag would fly for only one year, as
the 26-star flag (for Michigan) would replace it in 1837.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Flag Day and the U.S. Army

On this date in 1777, the Second Continental Congress authorized the new American flag of 13 stars and stripes, and is now known as Flag Day in the United States.

Today also marks the official birthday of the United States Army in 1775, following John Adams' proposal for the formation of a Continental Army a few days before. Today we honor the men and women who have served our country.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Arrival of La Fayette

Today in 1777, the Marquis de La Fayette, at the age of 19, arrived in South Carolina in an effort to join the American Revolution. After informing Congress he would serve without pay, Congress commissioned him as a major general and Washington accepted him as his aide-de-camp in August 1777. La Fayette would eventually lead troops throughout the Revolution, and helped defeat Cornwallis in Yorktown in 1781. An American flag continues to fly on his grave in France to this day.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Wall

On this date in 1987, in a speech in West Berlin, President Ronald Reagan issued a challenge to Soviet leader Gorbachev which became some of the most famous words Reagan would say during his presidency:

"General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

Two and a half years later, in November 1989, the Berlin Wall would indeed begin to be dismantled, one of the biggest symbols of the collapse of the communist governments in Eastern Europe over the next few years. In Reagan's honor, we display the flag of his home state, Illinois.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Dr. Joseph Warren

Dr. Joseph Warren, one of the more notable members of the Sons of Liberty, was born on this date in 1741. It was Warren, after receiving intelligence on the impending attack by the British on Concord, who sent William Dawes and Paul Revere on their midnight rides to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock and sound the alarm. Warren later led troops in the battles of Lexington and Concord and later at Bunker Hill, where he helped inspire the men to hold their ground against the British, and where was killed in action. In his honor, we raise the Sons Of Liberty flag.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Adams' Proposal

John Adams stood before Congress in Philadelphia on this day in 1775 and proposed the formation of a Continental Army, utilizing the men laying seige to British-occupied Boston. A few days later, Adams would formally nominate George Washington to lead this new army.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Flag History: The First American Flag

The Continental Colors (also known later as the Grand Union Flag) was the first flag of the United States, raised for the first time by John Paul Jones on December 3, 1775. This flag was used by both the army and navy until the adoption of the Flag Act of 1777, which changed the blue field from the British Union Flag to the 13-star design.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Bill Of Rights Is Born

On this date in 1789, Virginia Representative James Madison addressed the First Congress, proposing a total of twenty amendments to the newly-ratified United States Constitution. These amendments were eventually condensed to twelve, ten of which were ratified by enough states to become the Bill of Rights as we know them today.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

A Proposal Of Independence

Today was one of the most pivotal dates in American history in 1776, when Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee put forth a motion to the Second Continental Congress, in part:

"Resolved: 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."

Lee's resolution was debated and eventually led to the approval and signing of the Declaration of Independence a few weeks later. Lee himself was absent when the vote for independence was taken, but signed the Declaration when he returned to Congress. In Lee's honor, we raise the flag of Virginia today.

Friday, June 6, 2014


June 6, 1944 was the day 156,000 men from the United States and other Allied nations began the liberation of Nazi-occupied Europe with the amphibious invasion of Normandy, France - the largest such invasion in history. Less than a year later, Nazi Germany surrendered and the European portion of World War II was over.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Victory At Midway

On the second day of the Battle of Midway, June 5th, 1942, the final two Japanese carriers of the four-carrier task force - the Akagi and the Hiryu - were scuttled after being damaged the day before (the first two were sunk on June 4th). Despite the loss of the American carrier Yorktown in the battle, the sinking of the four Japanese carriers and prevention of the Japanese task force from invading Midway Atoll was a decisive victory for the Allies and began the long campaign toward eventual victory over Japan in 1945.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Don't Give Up The Ship

June 4th is the date of the death of Captain James Lawrence, who died of wounds received on the USS Chesapeake during the battle with HMS Shannon on June 1st, 1813. As the Chesapeake was being attacked, Lawrence gave his final command, "Don't give up the ship." Lawrence's friend, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, had the words stitched into a blue ensign, and flew this flag during his victory at the Battle of Lake Erie. The original is now on display at the Naval Academy Museum.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Night Ride Of Jack Jouett

Today marks the beginning of Jack Jouett's Ride in 1781. When Jouett spotted a British force moving toward Charlottesville, Virginia to attempt to capture the Viriginia government and Governor Thomas Jefferson, the "Revere Of The South" rode 40 miles in rough terrain to beat the British there and sound the alarm. He first notified Jefferson at Monticello, where several legislators were staying, then rode to Charlottesville a few miles further. Jouett's efforts saved Jefferson, most of the legislature and General Edward Stevens from capture by the British.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The FIRST First Lady

Today is the birthday of Martha Dandridge Custis Washington, the wife of George Washington and the first First Lady of the United States. Born in Virginia, she was married to Washington for more than 40 years until his death in 1799.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Kentucky And Tennessee

 Today is Statehood Day for Kentucky and Tennessee, the 15th and 16th states to join the Union. While Kentucky joined in 1792 and Tennessee only four years later, Kentucky's star was added to the United States flag in 1795 (Kentucky also got a stripe, as the flag was changed to 15 stripes as well). Tennessee's star was only added after four other states joined the Union and the flag was changed for the first time in 23 years, modified to 20 stars and 13 stripes in 1818.