There have been more than a couple of flag designs since the birth of our great nation in 1776.
It has been altered and changed through the years to honor and reflect the growth of the U.S., and on Saturday, this country shall once again observe Flag Day.
The 48-star flag was used in the U.S. longer than any other flag design. It lasted from 1912-1959, when Alaska became the 49th state.
It was not until 1912 that Arizona became the 48th state, and it was the last state of the continental United States. That meant that our country now officially stretched from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from “sea to shining sea."
The 48-star flag saw the U.S. emerge as a world power. It was the flag the United States fought under in World War I. It was the flag that flew over our country during the nation’s bleakest period — the Great Depression.
And, it was the flag that saw the U.S. through the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, World War II, and the Korean War.
Probably the most dramatic image of the 48-star flag was taken by photographer Joe Rosenthal on Iwo Jima during the Second World War.
U.S. Marines invaded the tiny Pacific Island in February and March of 1945 to establish an air base from which U.S. planes could attack Japan.
Japan heavily fortified the island and was already using it as an air base. Fighting was intense, and thousands of Marines lost their lives in capturing the island.
Although the U.S. flag was raised on Iwo Jima on Feb. 13, the island did not fall under U.S. control until March 16, 1945.
A statue of the five brave Marines and Navy corpsman that raised the 48-star flag at Iwo Jima stands in Arlington, Va., near Arlington National Cemetery.
One of those five brave soldiers was PFC Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian from the 48th state of Arizona.
The 49-star flag was one of America’s shortest-lived flags — it only lasted a year, from July 4, 1959 to July 4, 1960. This flag represented Alaska’s admission to the Union, and on July 4, 1960, the 50th star was added to the U.S. flag for the state of Hawaii.
The 50-star flag, of course, is our current flag.
Like the 48-star flag, the 50-star flag has also seen many historic events.
It was draped over John F. Kennedy’s casket; it has witnessed the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. It was raised by our astronauts on the moon on July 20, 1969, and it witnessed a joyous time for all Americans — the celebration of our country’s 200th birthday on July 4, 1976.
And, of course, the 50-star flag is witnessing today’s history in the making.
The U.S. flag represents what our country stands for — liberty, justice, equality, and opportunity — at home, on the seas, and abroad.
Our country was created with a dream in mind — that Americans could live as free people and that Americans could achieve their highest potential if they wanted to.
But, for our country to live up to its creed, we ourselves must do likewise.
By abiding to the principles found in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution, upholding our laws and changing them when they need to be changed, gaining knowledge, and being productive citizens, we are keeping our nation the greatest on earth.
Therefore, we must be aware of what the United States stands for, and we must take an interest in our country. Otherwise, the principals that our country stands for will fade away like the colors of a weather-worn flag.
Information from "What You Should Know About the American Flag" by Earl P. Williams, Jr., was used in this column.
To reach Ted W. Stillwell, email or call him at (816) 252-9909.