Those Who Have Carried The Flag
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:
At the beginning of the Revolutionary War the individual states were not united by a national government and they lacked a symbol that could unite them. Instead, there were many flags. An attempt to unite the states fighting for independence under a flag that held resemblance to Great Britain’s was not successful. Instead, the Second Continental Congress determined it was time to part with Great Britain’s emblem entirely and establish a new national symbol for a new nation.
One year after the Declaration of Independence was adopted the Second Continental Congress established a national flag. The resolution pronounced that “the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white” and that “the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
Decades later, a conflict over slavery and state sovereignty erupted. The North and the South could no longer resolve their differences. Those in the South rejected the flag that had united the country since its origin. Southerners replaced the American flag with their own flags: three successive confederate flags that would set their people apart from the United States.
Although the Civil War nearly tore our nation apart, we eventually emerged as a better and stronger nation. The tenets of the Declaration of Independence – that ALL men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights – could finally be realized with the elimination of slavery. And because of the Civil War, Americans began to fly the American flag. It wasn’t until Northerners began displaying flags as a symbol of their allegiance and patriotism that it became commonplace for individuals to fly flags at their own homes.
By the time of World War II, the United States was among the most prosperous and prominent nations of the world. The country had grown and the flag then contained 48 stars. As a world superpower, the United States joined the fight against the Axis Powers and led the Allies to victory.
With the admission of Alaska and Hawaii to the union, our flag became what it is today –a flag with 50 stars. Today our flag represents the American way of life. It is a sign of relief, an emblem of hope and a symbol of freedom. The flag stands for the fight for independence, the triumph over slavery, the crushing of Nazism and the containment of communism.
This Independence Day, I hope you’ll take the opportunity to thank the men and women who have worn the uniform of our United States, united under the flag of our nation. Because of them, and those who went before them, we won our independence, and are free.