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         Music - George M. Cohan "You're A Grand Old Flag"

OUR FLAG

THE STARS AND STRIPES

 

Besty Ross

Betsy Ross is regarded by many modern historians, pseudo-historians, vexillologists (flag experts), and writers on Philadelphia as a character befitting a fable that the tale of her making the first flag is no more than an instructive parable.

Modern-day parsers of the past suggest that several 19th-century authors and enthusiasts of American history were overanxious to champion the story of Betsy Ross brought to public attention by her grandson, William Canby, in a speech before the Pennsylvania Historical Society in 1870 that the story of the patriots of the Revolutionary Era required a deserving female role model, that magazines, textbooks, and artists uncritically have echoed the contrivance of a man who was an 11-year-old boy when his grandmother died. Some historians ignore Canby altogether and say, "There's no written record of the sewing of the first flag; therefore we cannot accept the story as truthful or likely."

Historians, to their credit, always want source documentation. The oral history testimony of Betsy Ross's daughter and other family members recount Betsy's story, and historically the dates and circumstances remain unrefuted. Evaluating the circumstantial evidence also supports her story, including the paper star found in a trunk in the 20th century. We find that the evidence supports Betsy Ross as the maker of the first flag.

In April 2009, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission officially recognized Betsy Ross's contributions with a historic marker in front of her house, stating, "Credited with making the first stars and stripes flag, Ross was a successful upholsterer. She produced flags for the government for over 50 years. As a skilled artisan, Ross represents the many women who supported their families during the Revolution and early Republic."

Some of our Early Flags

 

American ships in New England waters flew a "Liberty Tree" flag in 1775. It shows a green pine tree on a white background, with the words, "An Appeal to Heaven."

The Continental Navy used this flag, with the warning, "Don't Tread on Me," upon its inception.

 

 

The "Betsy Ross" flag. The Flag Resolution did not specify the arrangement of the stars or the specific proportions of the flag. So many 13-star flags were used, as seen from the next several pictures.

Another 13-star flag, in the 3-2-3-2-3 pattern.

The Guilford Flag.

The Serapis Flag.

 

At the Battle of Bennington in August 1777 were two famous flags. One, shown here, is called the Bennington Flag or the Fillmore Flag. Nathaniel Fillmore took this flag home from the battlefield. The flag was passed down through generations of Fillmores, including Millard, and today it can be seen at Vermont's Bennington Museum. The other (not pictured) has a green field and a blue canton with 13 gold-painted stars arranged in rows. General John Stark gave his New Hampshire troops a rallying speech that would be the envy of any football coach today. He said, "My men, yonder are the Hessians. They were brought for seven pounds and ten pence a man. Are you worth more? Prove it. Tonight, the American flag floats from yonder hill or Molly Stark sleeps a widow!"

Cowpens Flag. According to some sources, this flag was first used in 1777. It was used by the Third Maryland Regiment. There was no official pattern for how the stars were to be arranged. The flag was carried at the Battle of Cowpens, which took place on January 17, 1781, in South Carolina. The actual flag from that battle hangs in the Maryland State House.

Vermont and Kentucky joined the union in 1791 and 1792. This flag with 15 stars and 15 stripes, was adopted by a Congressional act of 1794. The flag became effective May 1, 1795.

By 1818, the union consisted of 20 states. A Congressional act mandated that the number of stripes be fixed at 13 and that one new star was to be added for each new state, the July 4 following its admission. However, nothing was written about what arrangement the stars should be in. This and the following two flags were all used simultaneously.

Another 1818 flag (see above).

And another 1818 flag (see above). This was called the "Grand Star" flag.

 





The United States flag today. The 50th star was added on July 4, 1960 for Hawaii, which entered the Union on August 21, 1959.

 

 

Displaying the Flag

   1. When the flag is displayed over the middle of the street, it should be suspended vertically with the union to the north in an east and west street or to the east in a north and south street.

     2. The flag of the United States of America, when it is displayed with another flag against a wall from crossed staffs, should be on the right, the flag's own right [that means the viewer's left --Webmaster], and its staff should be in front of the staff of the other flag.

 

  3. The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. By "half-staff" is meant lowering the flag to one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff. Crepe streamers may be affixed to spear heads or flagstaffs in a parade only by order of the President of the United States.

 

           4. When flags of States, cities, or localities, or pennants of societies are flown on the same halyard with the flag of the United States, the latter should always be at the peak. When the flags are flown from adjacent staffs, the flag of the United States should be hoisted first and lowered last. No such flag or pennant may be placed above the flag of the United States or to the right of the flag of the United States (the viewer's left). When the flag is half-masted, both flags are half-masted, with the US flag at the mid-point and the other flag below.

 

      5. When the flag is suspended over a sidewalk from a rope extending from a house to a pole at the edge of the sidewalk, the flag should be hoisted out, union first, from the building.

 

         6. When the flag of the United States is displayed from a staff projecting horizontally or at an angle from the window sill, balcony, or front of a building, the union of the flag should be placed at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half-staff.

 

       7. When the flag is used to cover a casket, it should be so placed that the union is at the head and over the left shoulder. The flag should not be lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground.

 

   8. When the flag is displayed in a manner other than by being flown from a staff, it should be displayed flat, whether indoors or out. When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag's own right, that is, to the observer's left. When displayed in a window it should be displayed in the same way that is with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street. When festoons, rosettes or drapings are desired, bunting of blue, white and red should be used, but never the flag.

 

      9. That the flag, when carried in a procession with another flag, or flags, should be either on the marching right; that is, the flag's own right, or, if there is a line of other flags, in front of the center of that line.

 

      10. The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of States or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs.

 

       11. When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace. The order of precedence for flags generally is National flags (US first, then others in alphabetical order in English), State (host state first, then others in the order of admission) and territories (Washington DC, Puerto Rico, etc.), Military (in order of establishment: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard), then other. Read more.

 

      12. When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium on or off a podium, the flag of the United States of America should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience, and in the position of honor at the clergyman's or speaker's right as he faces the audience. Any other flag so displayed should be placed on the left of the clergyman or speaker (to the right of the audience). Please note that the old guidelines differed from this updated and simplified one.

 

      13. When the flag is displayed on a car, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.

 

    14. When hung in a window, place the blue union in the upper left, as viewed from the street.

 

Flagpoles, Flag Sizes, Flag Proportions

 The usual size of a flag used at home is 3'x5'. A casket flag is 9-1/2'x5'. The table below shows the appropriate size flag to fly on flagpoles of several heights.

 

 

Flag Proportions

      

Flag Folding

As an Army and Navy custom, the flag is lowered daily at the last note of retreat. Special care should be taken that no part of the flag touches the ground. The Flag is then carefully folded into the shape of a tri-cornered hat, emblematic of the hats worn by colonial soldiers during the war for Independence. In the folding, the red and white stripes are finally wrapped into the blue, as the light of day vanishes into the darkness of night.

 

How to fold the Flag

Step 1

To properly fold the Flag, begin by holding it waist-high with another person so that its surface is parallel to the ground.

Step 2

Fold the lower half of the stripe section lengthwise over the field of stars, holding the bottom and top edges securely.

Step 3

Fold the flag again length wise with the blue field on the outside.

Step 4

Make a triangular fold by bringing the striped corner of the folded edge to meet the open (top) edge of the flag.

Step 5

Turn the outer (end) point inward, parallel to the open edge, to form a second triangle

Step 6

The triangular folding is continued until the entire length of the flag is folded in this manner.

Step 7

When the flag is completely folded, only a triangular blue field of stars should be visible.

Flag Folding Ceremony

The flag folding ceremony described by the Uniformed Services is a dramatic and uplifting way to honor the flag on special days, like Memorial Day or Veterans Day, and is sometimes used at retirement ceremonies.

Here is a typical sequence of the reading:

(Begin reading as Honor Guard or Flag Detail is coming forward).

The flag folding ceremony represents the same religious principles on which our country was originally founded. The portion of the flag denoting honor is the canton of blue containing the stars representing the states our veterans served in uniform. The canton field of blue dresses from left to right and is inverted when draped as a pall on a casket of a veteran who has served our country in uniform.

In the Armed Forces of the United States, at the ceremony of retreat the flag is lowered, folded in a triangle fold and kept under watch throughout the night as a tribute to our nation's honored dead. The next morning it is brought out and, at the ceremony of reveille, run aloft as a symbol of our belief in the resurrection of the body.

(Wait for the Honor Guard or Flag Detail to unravel and fold the flag into a quarter fold--resume reading when Honor Guard is standing ready.)

The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.

The second fold is a symbol of our belief in the eternal life.

The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks who gave a portion of life for the defense of our country to attain a peace throughout the world.

The fourth fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in times of war for His divine guidance.

The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, "Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong."

The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

The seventh fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.

The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered in to the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for whom it flies on mother's day.

The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood; for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great have been molded.

The tenth fold is a tribute to father, for he too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.

The eleventh fold, in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The twelfth fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost.

When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, "In God we Trust."

(Wait for the Honor Guard or Flag Detail to inspect the flag--after the inspection, resume reading.)

After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington and the sailors and marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today.

 

 

(How to fold the flag)

(Please turn off the music to hear and see this video)

 

(John Wayne "America, Why I love her")

 

Sam Reinert
CPT MP USAR (Ret)
Founder
545th Military Police Company Association
626 1/2 South 9th Street
Richmond, Indiana 47374 USA
(765) 962 4627 phone & FAX
http://545thmpassn.com/