OUR FLAG by Rev Henry H. Birkins July 4th 1876

betsy_ross_flag1OUR FLAG by Rev Henry H. Birkins 1834-1899.  Delivered At The Centennial Celebration, Washington Heights, New York City, July 4, 1876.

Mr. Chairman:—One of the most conspicuous and pleasing objects in our broad land to-day, is the starry emblem of freedom—our dear old flag. We see it, a centennial spectacle, floating everywhere, as we never saw it before, and as we never shall see it again. It is unfurled along our highways, it adorns our public and private dwellings, it floats over our temples of worship, our halls of learning and courts of justice, and waves as grandly and gracefully over the lowest cottage in the land, as over the proud dome of the capital itself. It is our flag, with sweet centennial memories clinging to every fold, our flag along whose stripes we may trace the triumphant march of one hundred years, and from whose stars we see the light of hope and liberty still flashing upon the nations.

AFBetsyross1776The origin of our flag is, to some extent, involved in mystery and controversy. It has been claimed by some that its stars and stripes were first taken from the shield of the Washington family, which was distinguished by colored lines and stars; and if this be so, it is not at all improbable, though by no means certain, that Washington himself may have suggested the peculiar form of the flag. The first distinctively American flag was unfurled to the breeze on the first day of January, 1776. It consisted of “seven white and seven red stripes,” and bore upon its front the “red and white crosses of St. George and St. Andrew,” and was called “The Great Union Flag.” This flag quickly displaced all other military devices, and became the battle-banner of the American Army. In 1777, however, it was greatly changed. The crosses were omitted and thirteen red and white stripes were used to denote the thirteen States, and thirteen stars were used to represent the union of those States. And our flag still retains its stars occasionally adding one to the number, and, as traitors know to their sorrow, it also still retains its stripes, well laid on. We have never found it necessary to ask true American citizens to respect and honor our flag. When Gen. Dix, on the 29th of January, 1861, penned those terse memorable words: “If any one attempts to haul down the American flag shoot him on the spot;” the loyal people of the nation said, “Amen. So let it be.

We do not wonder that our people, and especially our soldiers love the flag. It is to them both a history and a prophecy. No wonder that brave soldier as he fell on the field of battle said, “Boys, don’t wait for me; just open the folds of the old flag and let me see it once more before I die.

bald_eagle_head_and_american_flag1No wonder that Massachusetts soldier boy, dying in the gory streets of Baltimore, lifted up his glazing eyes to the flag and shouted, “All hail, the stars and the stripes!!!” Our flag is a power everywhere. One has justly said, “It is known, respected and feared round the entire globe. Wherever it goes, it is the recognized symbol of intelligence, equality, freedom and Christian civilization. Wherever it goes the immense power of this great Republic goes with it, and the hand that touches the honor of the flag, touches the honor of the Republic itself. On Spanish soil, a man entitled to the protection of our government was arrested and condemned to die. The American consul interceded for his life, but was told that the man must suffer death. The hour appointed for the execution came, and Spanish guns, gleaming in the sunlight, were ready for the work of death. At that critical moment the American consul took our flag, and folded its stars and stripes around the person of the doomed man, and then turning to the soldiers, said: “Men, remember that a single shot through that flag will be avenged by the entire power of the American Republic.” That shot was never fired. And that man, around whom the shadows of death were gathering, was saved by the stars and the stripes. Dear old flag! Thou art a power at home and abroad. Our fathers loved thee in thine infancy, one hundred years ago; our heroic dead loved thee, and we loved thee, and fondly clasp thee to our hearts today. All thy stars gleam like gems of beauty on thy brow, and all thy stripes beam upon the eye like bows of promise to the nation.

Wave on, thou peerless, matchless banner of the free! Wave on, over the army and the navy, over the land and the sea, over the cottage and the palace, over the school and the church, over the living and the dead; wave ever more, “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

See also: 
Founders on the 2nd Amendment
THE AMERICAN FLAG! A Poem By Joseph Rodman Drake May 29, 1819
NO SLAVE BENEATH THE FLAG by George Lansing Taylor 1835-1903
OUR FLAG-THE PROUD EMBLEM OF THE REPUBLIC. by Gen. Ferdinand Claiborne Latrobe July 4th 1876
Once a Marine, always a Marine! Salute! Semper Fidelis!
Advice to Young People from Noah Webster Father of American Education
Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God
Why our Forefathers firmly believed that Freedom and Liberty came from God
SONG OF THE SOLDIERS! A Poem By Charles G. Halpine 1861-1865
THE OATH! By Thomas Buchanan Read 1822-1872
THE DUTY AND VALUE OF PATRIOTISM by John Ireland 1894
THE RISING, 1776! By Thomas Buchanan Read 1822-1872
THE BEACON FIRES OF LIBERTY by Hon. George Lear July 4, 1876
We The People Never Forget September 11, 2001