- Special Sections
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On June 2, I attended the War of 1812 celebration at the Owen County History Museum and heard retired Gen. Carl Black tell the story of the flag at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Md. during the British bombardment of Sept. 16, 1814.
Francis Scott Key witnessed the battle from a British ship while on board to negotiate the release of one of his friends, a prisoner of England. He kept looking to see if the American flag was still waving.
At times, he could see it but at other times, it was not there. After the battle had been won by America, he went through Fort McHenry. The American flag was still standing only because of the dead bodies stacked around it. Whenever the British would shoot the flag down, an American would grab it and hold it up until he was shot down to be replaced by another American to hold up the flag. We know that flag today as “Old Glory.”
The words of our national anthem were written by Francis Scott Key, who had watched for the American flag during the bombing of Fort McHenry.
The United States Flag Code Title 36, Section 171 – Conduct During Playing of the National anthem states, “During rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention, facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. Men not in uniform should remove their headdress (hat) with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should render the military salute at the first note of the anthem and retain this position until the last note. When the flag is not displayed, those present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed there.”
When I’m at events or watch events on T.V. where the national anthem is sung or played I’m always surprised and disappointed to see so many people that do not face the flag and put their right hand over their heart during the anthem. I hope the readers of this article will remember that the flag of the United States of America represents our country and many have died for our country and flag. We owe it to them and to our country to show respect to the flag and our national anthem by standing at attention with our right hand over our heart whenever we hear the National anthem, wherever we are.
On June 14, 1777, in order to establish an official flag for the new nation, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act: “Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” Flag Day, the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777, was officially established by President Woodrow Wilson’s Proclamation in 1916. Although Flag Day was celebrated in various communities since then, it was President Harry Truman in 1949 that signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day. This June 14 fly your American Flag proudly.
John Guill Chapter, NSDAR