It’s a holiday rooted in the Revolutionary War and celebrated during the Civil War era. When the thirteen colonies declared themselves “free and independent” from Great Britain in 1776, they launched a great experiment of freedom which culminated in the formation of the United States of America.
By the 1860’s, decades of sectional dissent erupted into Civil War. The nation had grown beyond the original thirteen states to number thirty-four states at the beginning of 1861. As southern states broke away from the Union, people wondered if the flag needed to be redesigned. President Lincoln and other Federal leaders refused, believing in the ideal of a perpetual Union between the states. All the stars remained on the United States flags during the Civil War, and a few new states were even added during the war years.
The fifty stars on our modern U.S. Flags tell a continuing story of the nation’s growth. As we celebrate freedoms and independence today, remember that 1776’s history was just a beginning. The history of our nation has encompassed many noble moments and also times of deep sadness and controversy. But when we see the flag, we see a visual symbol of that story – a story of unity, restoration, growth, and learning as the history of American liberty continues to unfold and catch the winds of hope.
Wishing all our readers a safe and glorious Fourth of July!