The History of Three American Staples

The History of Three American Staples

The American Flag, Pledge of Allegiance, and the National Anthem all have a special place in American History and still hold significance to all Americans today. To really appreciate their place in American culture you may want to know some key historical facts about each one. Here are a few key pieces of history surrounding each of these American staples.

The American Flag

The American flag has undergone changes throughout American History. George Washington first unveiled what has now evolved into the American flag on New Year’s Day when he ordered the Grand Union flag to be hoisted above his base at Prospective Hill when the Continental Army was laying siege to Boston. The Grand Union flag has thirteen red and white stripes and the British Union Jack in the upper left corner of the flag.

The Flag Act was pasted by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777, which became the first official flag of the United States. The flag kept the same thirteen red and white stripes but now had thirteen stars to represent each colony.

Congress made additional changes to the flag up until 1960. The most significant change was when a new state joined the union, a new star would be added to the flag as a representation of the state. The thirteen stripes remained and now represent the thirteen original colonies.

The Pledge of Allegiance

The pledge of allegiance was written in August 1892 by Francis Bellamy. The words “under God” were added when President Eisenhower was in office, he encouraged Congress to pass the legislation making this change in 1954. The pledge was first known as “The Youth’s Companion” and was a military salute rather than a pledge.

When reciting the pledge prior to World War II you would start with your hand over your heart and then extend your arm with your palm faced down towards the flag. This salute resembled the Nazi salute too closely and was changed in response.


The National Anthem

The Star-Spangled Banner was originally written as a poem by Francis Scott Key on September 14, 1814. The poem was originally titled “The Defense of Fort M’ Henry,” and it was a response to Key witnessing Fort McHenry being bombarded by the British for up to 25 hours. The British attempted to take Fort McHenry but the revolutionary forces held off what was the most powerful military of its time. Key’s poem was a response to this great battle, Key was relieved that the revolutionary army was able to holds its own against the British forces and that morning he saw an American Flag flying high above Fort McHenry.

The Star-Spangled Banner was a popular patriotic song in the 19th century prior to becoming the national anthem. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed an executive order designating it the national anthem of the United States. Two other popular patriotic songs were also under consideration for the national anthem as well including, “My Country, Tis of Thee” and “America the Beautiful.”

Understanding the history of these three American staples is important for our youth to know so that they can properly show their appreciation and live up to the American core values.