LOS ANGELES, June 13, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- According to a June 7 survey conducted by special interest news network PASHpost, 35% of Americans surveyed fly an American flag in front of their homes, with 15% of respondents stating they aspire to display an American flag residentially. Additionally, despite current perceptions regarding traditional American values since the 2016 election, 53% of those surveyed claim their perception of the American flag remains unchanged, with more than 83% of respondents continuing to associate the national symbol with feelings of patriotism and democracy.
While the origin of Flag Day in the U.S. was officially established by an Act of Congress in 1949, flags have a far deeper, and essential, history in the context of human civilization as a means of communication and symbolism, particularly in the context of warfare, pushing the evolution of flags to the place they hold in the zeitgeist today.
Steeped in Political and Cultural History
The contemporary usage of flags is traced back to the Zhou Dynasty in China (1046-256 BCE), where flags depicting colored birds, tigers and dragons were emblazoned upon chariots and implanted onto the walls of captured cities to advertise new political oversight. Reigning political rulers would rarely expose their flag to opposing armies, fearing the enemy could take the symbol of the dynasty, signifying the defeat of the administration.
Maritime trading depended on hoisting flags on vessels for purposes of cultural and commercial identification, a practice that peaked during the 1600s, when seafaring was the primary method facilitating international commerce. The rise of nationalism throughout the following century further cemented the symbolism and importance of national flags as the personification of a nation putting their stake in the ground, claiming territory both literally and figuratively.
Relatively speaking, as one of the world's youngest countries, America's history with its flag is brief but powerful nonetheless. Originally created in 1776 as a simple take on the British Union Jack flag with alternating red and white stripes, the country's first flag was designed with expediency to distinguish America from her former crown, Great Britain, on the high seas after the country declared independence.
In 1777, the Flag Resolution created a new design for the American flag, declaring the U.S. flag to "be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation."
The stars signify every state in the union, while the stripes stand for each original colony in the United States. The colors hold significance as well, according to Charles Thompson, Secretary of the Continental Congress: "White signifies purity and innocence, red, hardiness and valor, and blue … signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice."
The American flag had an especially prominent role during the War of 1812 at Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor, when Francis Scott Key, who, as a young lawyer, brought aboard a warring U.K. vessel to negotiate the release of an American hostage and found himself surrounded by the heat of battle, with the American flag flying above, where, amidst the canons and gunfire, he penned what we know today as "The Star-Spangled Banner," America's national anthem.
The Smithsonian Preserves A Patriotic Legacy
Despite the differing versions of Old Glory throughout the nation's history, the flag has managed to hold a sense of sacred pride for most Americans. According to the PASHpost survey, the majority of respondents believe the American flag represents patriotism and democracy both before and after the 2016 election, despite the rising number of respondents who said the flag represented intolerance since 2016.
A 2018 Gallup poll found similar results: Although the number of Americans who say they are extremely patriotic has gone down since 2013, 72% of Americans considered themselves to be at least very or extremely patriotic. When asked what the American flag means to them in the PASHpost survey, respondents answered "pride" more than any other word.
"We're not going to tell anybody what the (American) flag means," explains Jennifer Jones, Curator of the Smithsonian's exhibit The Star-Spangled Banner: The Flag that Inspired the National Anthem on permanent display at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. "The American flag really symbolizes the country's ideals, and people bring their own beliefs to it," Jones added.
Housing the authentic flag that flew above Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812, The Star-Spangled Banner exhibit is the centerpiece of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, signifying the flag's place in history as one of the country's most symbolic national artifacts.
The Star-Spangled Banner underwent an extensive conservation effort that began in 1998 and concluded in 2008. To preserve the artifact in its natural state, the two-story, 30-foot by 40-foot flag is encased in a nitrogen-enriched glass conservation chamber.
According to Jones, attendance at The Star-Spangled Banner exhibit has remained consistent, attracting between 4 and 5 million visitors each year, a patriotic validation that, regardless of political trends, the American flag remains a powerful symbol of who we are as a nation and a people.
"We don't want to tell people what to think and believe," Jones said. "We think the flag is big enough to encompass a diverse idea of what American values are."
About PASHpost Media
PASHpost is an LA-based special interest enthusiast network, connecting members with free, unlimited access to enthusiast news, information and communities in a unified digital environment. Integrated features include: personalized member dashboards, newsfeeds, marketplace, magazine and discussion features tailored to members' interests.
Marion Riedle, Publisher
The Original Star-Spangled Banner
The Star-Spangled Banner, the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write America's National Anthem, has been conserved by the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History where it is on permanent exhibit.
SOURCE PASHpost Media