Flag Day and the Army

On June 14, 1777 the Second Continental Congress passed this resolution:

 “Resolved, That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

The Flag was designed by member of Congress Francis Hopkinson who requested a quarter cask of wine for his services.  Payment was denied him on the sound ground that he was already being paid as a member of Congress.  Two years previously on June 14, 1775, Congress voted to adopt the New England militia army besieging Boston and so the Continental Army was formed.

I have always thought it appropriate that the Flag and the Army share the same birthday.  The Flag is the proud symbol of the nation but without military strength to back it up, it would quickly become a mere colorful piece of fabric.  John Wayne in a brief speech at the end of the movie Fort Apache (1948), part of John Ford’s cavalry trilogy, captured the spirit of the Army:

As did this passage the following year in the second of the cavalry trilogy, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon:


So here they are: the dog-faced soldiers, the regulars, the fifty-cents-a-day professionals… riding the outposts of a nation. From Fort Reno to Fort Apache – from Sheridan to Startle – they were all the same: men in dirty-shirt blue and only a cold page in the history books to mark their passing. But wherever they rode – and whatever they fought for – that place became the United States.

The song That Ragged Old Flag understands the necessity of men willing to fight for the nation, for the Flag, if the country is to endure:

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  1. “………….. the regulars, the fifty-cents-a-day professionals… ”

    I chuckled when I read this.
    I recall an incident back in 1967 – my mother had a woolshop in a small shopping centre, and she started stocking some product that was also sold by a store in the same complex a few doors up the street. The owner of the store came into mum’s shop an started abusing her, and obviously, mum was quite upset. So she rang dad, who left what he was doing and confronted the guy.
    (Dad fought in Italy in WW2,in 1943 – 44 mainly against the Germans) He said to him, ” It’s not that long ago I was paid ten bob a day (ten shillings – equivalent to one dollar) to kill better bastards than you”
    The bloke replied, “I was in the forces too.”
    To which dad replied, ” Yeah? Up on bludger’s hill – that’s where a bastard like you would have been.” (Bludger’s hill is a ANZAC term for someone who curries favour with the officers etc. so they stay back at HQ and don’t have to serve on the line)
    After that, the guy shut his trap and skulked back into his shop. :-).

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