American Legion Paradise Post 149 (Las Vegas, Nevada)
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December 7, 1941

The Pledge of Allegiance

 

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation under God, indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for all.

 

The Declaration of Independence (watch video)

Our National Anthem: The Star-Spangled Banner

— Francis Scott Key, 1814

O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen thro' the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash'd out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever when free-men shall stand
Between their lov'd home and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust!”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Origins of Famous Patriotic Songs

You may know the lyrics to these popular patriotic tunes.  But you may be surprised to learn about how they began. 

Yankee Doodle

Though often played during events commemorating America's revolutionary era, "Yankee Doodle" was originally sung prior to the Revolution by British military officers who mocked the unorganized and buckskin-wearing 'Yankees' with whom they fought during the French and Indian War.  It has become Connecticut's state song. 

The Star Spangled Banner

"The Star Spangled Banner," sung to the melody of a drinking song "To Anacreon in Heaven," is based on a poem written by Francis Scott Key called "Defense of Ft. McHenry" During the War of 1812.  Key overheard the British plans for attacking Baltimore while on board a British ship under a flag of truce trying to negotiate the release of a local doctor.  The British, unwilling to release Key or his fellow negotiator, held these Americans on board as the British navy attacked Fort McHenry.  Upon seeing the American flag still flying in the morning as his ship entered Baltimore harbor, an inspired Key wrote his famous poem.  "The Star Spangled Banner" became America’s national anthem by President Wilson's executive order in 1916.  Congress would confirm this order in 1931. 

The 1812 Overture

Although played at Fourth of July celebrations, "The 1812 Overture" has no connection with American history.  Pyotr Tchaikovsky wrote this song for the dedication ceremony of a Moscow church in 1882.  Public donations celebrating the Russian defeat of Napoleon in a different War of 1812 funded this church's construction.  The musical movements reflect various stages of this military conflict. 

The Battle Hymn of the Republic

Julia Ward Howe, the wife of a Boston abolitionist, wrote this hymn during the Civil War after visiting the Union army encamped on the Potomac near Washington, D.C.  The hymn first appeared in the Atlantic Monthly in 1862 and went on to become the rallying anthem of Union soldiers.  It later inspired American soldiers in World War II as well as civil rights activists in the 1960s.  "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" is the source of the title for John Steinbeck's book "Grapes of Wrath" and is considered to be the unofficial anthem of the Republican Party. 

My Country 'Tis of Thee / America

Samuel Smith wrote this song while studying in a seminary outside of Boston, MA.  Based on the melody from Britain's national anthem "God Save the King," it was first performed in 1831 at a children's Independence Day celebration in Boston.  "My Country 'Tis of Thee" went on to become the de facto national anthem of the United States for most of the 19th century. 

You're a Grand Ole' Flag

Written by George Cohan for the musical "George Washington, Jr.," it debuted on the play's opening night of Feb.  6, 1906.  This is the first song from a musical to sell over one million copies of sheet music. 

God Bless America

Irving Berlin wrote this song in 1918, but its tone was not in line with the comedic show for which it was written.  When looking for peaceful song as war loomed in Europe two decades later, Berlin pulled this tune off the shelves and modified it to reflect the current conditions.  The radio broadcast of Kate Smith's rendition of "God Bless America" on Armistice Day in 1938 rocketed this song to national acclaim.  Woody Guthrie, unhappy with Berlin's song, wrote "This Land is Your Land" in 1940 in response to this patriotic tune.

starbanner.jpg

The Blue Star Banner

 

   The Blue Star Service Banner was designed and patented in 1917 by World War I Army Capt. Robert L. Queissner of the 5th Ohio Infantry who had two sons serving on the front line. It quickly became the unofficial symbol of a child in the service.

 

  On Sept. 24, 1917, an Ohio congressman read the following into the Congressional Record: “…The mayor of Cleveland, the Chamber of Commerce and the governor of Ohio have adopted this service flag. The world should know of those who give so much for liberty. The dearest thing in all the world to a father and mother - their children.”

 

  During World War II, the Department of War issued specifications on the manufacture of the flag as well as guidelines indicating when and by whom the Service flag could be flown or the Service Lapel button could be worn. The Department of Defense updated the guidelines on December 1, 1967 with DoD Directive 1348.1, which implemented an Act of Congress authorizing a service flag and a service lapel button (U.S.C. 179-182).

 

  The Blue Star Service Banner typically displayed in windows is an 8.5 by 14-inch white field with a blue star(s) sewn onto a red banner. The size may vary but should be in proportion to the size of the U.S. Flag.

 

  Today Blue Star Service Banners are displayed by families who have a loved one serving in the armed forces including the National Guard and Reserves of all military departments.  The banner displayed in the front window of a home shows a family’s pride in their loved one serving in the military, and reminds others that preserving America’s freedom demands much.

 

  The blue star represents one family member serving in the armed forces. A banner can have up to five stars, signifying that five members of that family are currently in military uniform on active duty.

 

  If the individual symbolized is killed or dies while serving the star representing that individual will have superimposed on it a gold star of smaller size so that the blue forms a border. On flags displaying multiple stars, including gold stars, when the flags are suspended as against a wall, the gold star(s) will be to the right of, or above the blue star(s) a place of honor nearest the staff.

 

  Blue Star Mothers and Gold Star Mothers organizations were established during World War I and remain active today.

 

  Blue Star Service Banners, while widely used across America during World Wars I and II, were not embraced during the Korean or Vietnam wars with nearly the same enthusiasm.

 

  The American Legion is rekindling the spirit of pride in our military men and women following the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The American Legion is providing banners to families in communities across the nation. Free color downloads are available at www.legion.org of the banners and static cling versions for home and automobile, as well as lapel pins, are available from The American Legion National Emblem Sales.

 

  The American Legion also has a special Blue Star Banner Corporate Flag for government and corporate America to show their support for employees called to active duty in the war against terrorism.

 

Click Here to read Fact Sheet (from the American Legion’s website)

 

For more information, contact

The American Legion Public Relations Office at (317) 630-1253.

 

Order Blue Star Banner from Emblem Sales - Toll Free Number: 1-888-453-4466

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