Sunday, March 21, 2010

Facts For Patriots #1

My grand parents and great grand parents on my mothers side came to this country from Ireland and, in spite of a thick Irish brogue which I myself had until I was about 10 years old, we were all very proud of our Irish heritage but even more proud of the privilege to be Americans. My friends are also proud Americans. You might say it is almost an unsaid prerequisite to earning my trust and friendship to be proud to be an American. One of my best friends is from a foreign country but loves this country and desperately wants to earn American citizenship.

With all that as a background I guess it is no surprise when I tell you that I get a good old fashioned "warm fuzzy feeling" whenever I see the American Flag, especially when it is being displayed with pride.

I was talking with some friends about this the other day and I told them the story of how the American Flag came to be called "Old Glory". After listening to me tell the tale, one of those friends said: "You should put these stories in your blog. These are things Americans should know. These are stories they would enjoy and take some pride in." I decided he was right. This then will be the first of some of those stories. You may have heard them already, in fact I kind of hope you have -but in case you haven't, I hope you'll enjoy them.

Your first lesson then, kiddies, is about how "Old Glory" got it's name:

"The name "Old Glory" was first coined by Captain William Driver, a ship master of Salem, Massachusetts, in 1831. As he was leaving on one of his many voyages aboard the brig CHARLES DOGGETT - and this one would climax with the rescue of the mutineers of the BOUNTY - some friends presented him with a twenty four star American Flag. As the banner opened to the ocean breeze for the first time, he exclaimed "Old Glory!"

He retired to Nashville in 1837, taking his treasured flag from his sea days with him. By the time the Civil War erupted, most everyone in and around Nashville recognized Captain Driver's "Old Glory." When Tennessee seceded from the Union, Rebels were determined to destroy his flag, but repeated searches revealed no trace of the hated banner.

Then on February 25th, 1862, Union forces captured Nashville and raised the American flag over the capital. It was a rather small ensign and immediately folks began asking Captain Driver if "Old Glory" still existed. Happy to have soldiers with him this time, Captain Driver went home and began ripping at the seams of his bed-cover. As the stitches holding the quilt-top to the batting unraveled, the onlookers peered inside and saw the 24-starred original "Old Glory"!

Captain Driver gently gathered up the flag and returned with the soldiers to the capitol. Though he was sixty years old, the Captain climbed up to the tower to replace the smaller banner with his beloved flag. The Sixth Ohio Regiment cheered and saluted - and later adopted the nickname "Old Glory" as their own, telling and re-telling the story of Captain Driver's devotion to the flag we honor yet today.

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