Displays of the United States flag remind us of the liberty and freedom our nation stands for as well as the heroic patriots who have fought to protect the U.S. over the years. Our flag has survived battles, declared victories and inspired songs. Images of our American flag on display, captured through art or photographs, come to mind when we think of events throughout our history. Here are some of the most significant U.S. flag displays through the years.
In 1805, the U.S. flag was flown on the shores of Tripoli in the country of Libya, marking an American victory in the Battle of Derna. This is believed to be the first time our nation’s flag was raised in victory on foreign soil. The location of this naval battle, the shores of Tripoli, is recognized in a line of the Marines’ Hymn.
On September 13, 1814, the U.S. Fort McHenry in Baltimore, America’s third-largest city at that time, withstood a 25-hour bombardment by the British. Early the next morning, U.S. soldiers raised a giant flag over the fort, signifying a victory for America and a favorable turning point in the war.
That early-morning flag flying above the fort inspired Francis Scott Key, an amateur poet, to write the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The words were set to music, and the song became our national anthem in 1931.
This flag from Fort McHenry was displayed for many years in the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. In 1998, the remnant 30 x 34-foot flag was removed for preservation work. It is now displayed at the museum in a climate-controlled, low-light chamber to aid in its preservation for future generations.
In 1824, William Driver, a sea captain from Salem, Mass., received a flag as a gift from family and friends. The flag flew from his ship’s mast during the adventures of his merchant marine career. He grew attached to the flag and named it “Old Glory,” hiding it for its preservation during the Civil War. The nickname was later adopted as a reference to any American flag.
On July 1, 1898, Colonel Theodore Roosevelt led a calvary brigade, including members of his “Rough Riders” regiment, to victory in the Battle of San Juan Hill. A photographer captured a now-famous image of the troops and a flag raised at the top of the hill. Following his heroic leadership in the Spanish-American War, Roosevelt became the 26th U.S. President.
On February 23, 1945, on Mount Suribachi, members of the U.S. military raised an American flag at Iwo Jima, in a photographic moment that led to the conclusion of the American campaign in the Pacific during World War II.
Raising the Flag Over Iwo Jima by Joe Rosenthal, an Associated Press photographer, became one of the most reproduced photographs in history. Rosenthal won a Pulitzer Prize for the image. Of the six men photographed raising that U.S. flag, three were later killed in the war.
The Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery, also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial, depicts the photographic image in bronze. The U.S. flag flies at the statue 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in accordance with a 1954 presidential proclamation by Dwight D. Eisenhower.
In May 1963, on Mount Everest, an exploration and climbing team sponsored by the National Geographic Society reached the summit and planted an American flag there. Barry Bishop, a photographer and member of the climbing team, captured an image of the U.S. flag at the summit.
On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first person to step foot on the moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission. Armstrong and his fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin planted a U.S. flag on the lunar surface. Armstrong’s "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” was followed by more Apollo missions that resulted in additional U.S. flags being planted on the moon. A NASA photographer captured images of the astronauts placing the American flag on the moon.
On September 11, 2001, in New York City, heroic firefighters raised a U.S. flag at the site of the attack on the World Trade Center towers. A photograph of this historic moment has become a symbol of the heroic sacrifice of those who lost their lives in the effort to save others. It also inspires hope for our nation in the face of adversity. Dispatched by the Associated Press, the image ran in newspapers around the world.
Sources: Wikipedia.org, si.edu, history.com, everestnews.com, washington.org
Battle of Derna en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Barbary_War
Fort McHenry https://www.si.edu/spotlight/flag-day/banner-facts
Old Glory https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Glory
San Juan Hill en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_San_Juan_Hill
Mount Everest everestnews.com/history/climbers/barrybishop.htm