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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.