Thursday, June 14, 2007

Happy Flag Day!

Today is Flag Day, a day set aside to honor our national banner and its origins. I hope you will join me in displaying your flag today, and remembering all that it stands for.
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Flag Image from 3DFlags

Here are some interesting links:
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I also recommend a great little book I picked up a few years ago at the public library: The Flag, the Poet & the Song: The Story of the Star-Spangled Banner by Irvin Molotsky, published 2001 by Dutton (Penguin Putnam, Inc.), New York. It includes some fascinating, not-so-trivial facts about our flag and its origins, the National Anthem, Francis Scott Key, and the War of 1812. I just picked it up from the library again today for another good read. Here are some facts that I remember reading the first time around:
  • The National Anthem should be sung or played at a brisk, martial pace, not slowly. Its tune was an old pub song (modern-day scenario: think of creating a National Anthem to the tune of Toby Keith's I Love This Bar!).
  • The Star-Spangled Banner that flew over Fort McHenry, which inspired Francis Scott Key, and which is now displayed in the Smithsonian, was made by Mary Pickersgill. It is very likely she had the help of her 13-year-old daughter Caroline, three nieces, a free black woman who worked as a servant in the household, and a slave girl owned by Pickersgill.
  • Francis Scott Key, who repeatedly penned the words "the land of the free" in his song, was also a slaveowner.
  • The British burned the capitol and the White House in Washington, D.C. during the War of 1812 as retaliation for the American destruction of many buildings that housed the provincial government in York (now Toronto), Upper Canada (now Ontario). These included the Parliament Building in York and the Governor's House at Fort York. We Americans are not taught this in our history classes!

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