Happy Flag Day from everyone here at the Redwood Library. Since it was established by Woodrow Wilson in 1916, June 14th has been traditionally celebrated in the United States as Flag Day. The reason June 14th was chosen in particular was due to its significance in 1777, for it was on that day that the Second Continental Congress, sitting in Philadelphia adopted the flag of the United States. There is conflicting discussion as to exactly what the flag looked like, or when it was first flown, but essentially the resolution signed suggested that "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." Today of course the "constellation" inside the blue field displays 50 stars, expressing the union of the 50 states within our nation.
In honor of Flag Day today, we look to our collections of periodicals and easily find inspiration.
Here we see the cover of our July 6th, 1942 edition of LIFE magazine, one of the most popular periodicals of the time. This particular issue is greatly poignant; July 4th, 1942 was the first celebration of American Independence since the crippling attack on Pearl Harbor and other American holdings in the Pacific by the Empire of Japan. In the almost 8 months since December 7th, the Armed Forces of the United States had seen few victories. While the Battle of the Coral Sea could have been considered a draw at best, and the Battle of Midway saw the Japanese invasion force repelled and their Navy defeated, the United States was still reeling from a series of defeats and setbacks in the Pacific Theatre of Operations. Meanwhile in Europe, the invasion of North Africa, where United States Forces would fight the German Army for the first time, was still months away. Despite these dark days still looming over the country, this July 6th cover shows the resolve of the country as a whole. The flowing 48-star flag against a dark and clouded backdrop shows that America was not ready to give up. Instead. for a nation mobilizing for war, they were only getting started. The flag would become a critical symbol to rally behind for the next three years, as the United States faced trials and countless battles from one side of the map to the other. Today this cover of LIFE magazine is an incredible timepiece to show how important our flag is, and how inspiring it can be to a nation facing some of its toughest times.
Please come see the cover of the July 6th. 1942 cover of LIFE magazine, along with other items in a few weeks as part of a Fourth of July display here at the Redwood Library and Athenaeum.