I was flipping my calendar from May to June to record an appointment, when my eye noticed an unexpected holiday – June 14th is Flag Day! Although not an official federal holiday, it had earned its mention on my calendar. Since I did not know much about it I turned to that trusted source of information – Wikipedia.
Flag Day commemorates the Flag Act of 1777 – the date when the Second Continental Congress: “Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white, that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”. Although the colors of the flag did not have specific meaning, the same colors are used on the Great Seal of the United States with White signifying purity and innocence, Red, hardiness and valor and Blue signifying vigilance, perseverance and justice.
In Philadelphia, we have been led to believe that Betsy Ross sewed the first flag. This is disputed by some historians but it does seem that the original design of the flag can be credited to Francis Hopkinson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a delegate to the Continental Congress from New Jersey.
Growing up we pledged allegiance to the Flag and when we sing the National Anthem – The Star Spangled Banner – we are singing about the flag surviving the battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. Perhaps more than any other symbol our flag represents our nation – the United States of America.
The Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia is lined by flag poles where the flags of different nations fly throughout the summer months. Shamefully I can only connect a few of the flags with the country they represent. During the Olympics, we will see athletes stand on the podium to receive their reward for outstanding achievement and then watch as the flag of their nation is raised with the gold medal winner hearing the national anthem of their country. Tears are a frequent part of this ceremony. A flag is a powerful symbol of a nation.
In the film, The Patriot, the hero of the story raises the Stars and Strips while running across the field of battle, rallying the troops behind the flag. As a child of the 60’s, images of protesters burning the flag in opposition to the Vietnam War are seared into my memory as are the memory of flag draped coffins filling the belly of the transport planes my husband flew from Southeast Asia back to Dover Air Force Base. Our flag is planted on the moon as well as raised on battle fields throughout the world. Sadly, when protesters wish to denigrate America, they will often burn our flag as an effective insult to our nation.
One of the finest hours for our flag occurred in the aftermath of the terror attacks on September 11, 2001. While we may vigorously disagree with our fellow citizens, like squabbling siblings, when an outsider strikes us, we stand as one people united against any foe who would seek to destroy us. Flags became as ubiquitous as dandelions on a spring lawn. Stores quickly sold out of their inventory and it became difficult to purchase a flag.
CRW Graphics responded to this shortage by printing flag posters. We chose a historical flag poster which was created in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor by Charles Coiner. These posters were distributed free of charge in various venues throughout the Delaware Valley and a small version of it is still available to visitors at some Philadelphia landmarks.
The American Flag is a powerful symbol. In the field of marketing we are well aware of symbols and hope to create the next great one. Truly memorable symbols are easy to recognize and tell a message without the use of any words. Symbols which are universally recognized are rare – in fact here is my SHORT list:
Golden Arches, Skull and Crossbones, Red Cross, Nike Swoosh, Star of David, Dove with Olive Branch, Latin Cross, Olympic Rings, Mac Apple –
Can you add to this list?