Talk with the Doc: US flag has noble history, future

Jim Surrell, MD

As some of our U.S. history lovers may know, the creation of our great flag was originally ordered to be created by the Second Continental Congress in the year 1777. Following is the specific Flag Resolution passed by this Continental Congress.

On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress passed the Flag Resolution which stated: “Resolved, that the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

Of course, our current flag has 50 stars representing the States of the Union. It was changed to a 49 star flag with Alaska becoming a State in January 1959. Shortly thereafter, it became our current 50 star flag when Hawaii became a State in August 1959. Of course, there are various names used to refer to our great flag, including: The American flag; The Stars and Stripes; Red, White and Blue, The Star-Spangled Banner.

Francis Hopkinson of New Jersey, who was a U.S. Navy flag designer and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, is credited with having designed the original 1777 flag. On April 4, 1818, some 40 years later, flag design rules were passed by Congress at the following suggestion of U.S. Naval Capt. Samuel C. Reid. Captain Reid made the brilliant suggestion that the flag now be changed to have 20 stars, representing the current number of the States of the Union. He recommended that a new star was to be added when each new state was admitted. He further recommended that the number of stripes that had been added be reduced to 13 so as to honor the original 13 colonies.

This official act, passed by Congress on April 4, 1818, also specified that new flag designs should become official on the first July 4th, (Independence Day) following admission of one or more new states. As noted above, the 49th star was officially added for Alaska on July 4, 1959 and the 50th star was officially added for Hawaii on July 4, 1960.

The United States Flag Code outlines the following guidelines for flag use and display. The flag should never be allowed to touch the ground and, if flown at night, it must be illuminated. If the edges become tattered through wear, the flag should be repaired or replaced. When a flag is so tattered that it can no longer serve as a symbol of the United States, it should be destroyed in a dignified manner. The American Legion and other organizations regularly conduct flag retirement ceremonies, often on Flag Day, on June 14th of each year in the U.S.

Of course, our great flag is associated with the beginning of numerous high school, college, and professional sporting events. It is also very directly associated with our military personnel, law enforcement personnel, and others who serve all of us to protect our liberties and keep us safe.

Respect our flag and God Bless America!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Jim Surrell is the author of “The ABC’s For Success In All We Do” and the “SOS (Stop Only Sugar) Diet” books. He has his practice at the Digestive Health Clinic at U.P. Health System-Marquette. Requests for health topics for this column are encouraged. Contact Dr. Surrell by email at