And so, my fellow Americans;
ask not what your country can do for you
ask what you can do for your country.
My fellow citizens of the world;
ask not what America will do for you,
but what together we can do for
the freedom of man.
This is Our America, yours and mine. As citizens of these United States we enjoy rights and privileges and a freedom that all too often we take for granted. We did not create this freedom. We inherited it from those forebears who through the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights evolved a nation of people governed by the consent of the governed.
We have these rights and privileges because our military has fought for that freedom, to obtain it, to maintain it. The freedom we take for granted is not free. It is a freedom that should be enjoyed by every man, woman and child on the face of the earth. There may come a day when all countries work together to make John Kennedy's vision a reality. All working together "for the freedom of man!"
Our countrys entire history has been a history of self-government. Not all elected officials, not all laws have been just and workable. Democracy as a rule of the people has had its human frailties. But measured alongside other forms of government it has come closest to achieving liberty and justice for all.
As in every period of our history we have new challenges, new problems, new trials. In facing them let us not lose sight of what has been accomplished. Once again we are reminded that with freedom goes responsibility. As we want our own rights protected, so must we protect the rights of others.
As the Revolutionary war progressed, there was an increasing feeling that a flag was needed which would symbolize the Colonies. Culmination of this feeling took place on June 14, 1777, when the Marine Committee of the Continental Congress, headed by John Adams, presented a recommendation, RESOLVED that the flag of the 13 United States be 13 stripes, alternated red and white; that the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field representing a new Constellation.
The new flag was officially adopted by Congress as of that date.
Historical evidence is to the effect that as originally conceived the Stars and Stripes was thought of solely as a naval flag to be used on ships. It apparently never was flown over the Army during the Revolution nor generally used until after the war was over.
Approximately 60 years later the War Department officially authorized the use of the Stars and Stripes by the Army.
It is not known who was the designer of the Stars and Stripes. The Betsy Ross legend is regarded as without foundation and there are no facts to prove that Francis Hopkinson was the flags creator.
The flag of 1777, with its 13 stripes and 13 stars continued unchanged until 1795. Vermont and Kentucky, having been admitted to the Union, Congress voted to add two stars and two stripes. This was the flag flown at Ft. McHenry in 1814, when Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner.
As additional states were admitted, the impracticality of adding a new stripe to the flag on each such occasion became self-evident. In 1818 at the suggestion of Captain Samuel Reid of the U.S. Navy, Congress passed an act that as of July 4th of that year, the number of stripes would revert on a permanent basis to the original 13, with 20 stars for the then 20 states of the Union and in the future a new star would be added for each state admitted to the Union.
The day is September 13th. The year is 1814. The British fleet under Admiral Cockburn is about to sail up the Patapsco River to bombard Fort McHenry, guarding the approach to the city of Baltimore.
Dr. Beanes, a local physician, has earlier been taken aboard one of the British ships. J. S. Skinner, the U.S. government agent for arranging the transfer of prisoners, and Francis Scott Key, a young lawyer, have gone aboard Admiral Cockburns ship, the Minden, to plead for Dr. Beanes release. The Admiral is willing but the fleet is getting underway and the two emissaries are retained on board ship until the action is over.
So it was that Francis Scott Key witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry from aboard a British warship. While doing so he wrote a stanza of the Star Spangled Banner on the back of an envelope. Next day at the Fountain Inn, in Baltimore, he wrote the remaining verses and gave them to his brother-in-law. Key made three copies, one of which is in the Library of Congress, one at the Pennsylvania Historical Society, and one in possession of the Maryland Historical Society.
The tune of our national anthem is that of a song called Anacreon In Heaven, written by John Stafford Smith for an English social club.
The flag that flew over Fort McHenry on the night of the bombardment is preserved in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.
Ordered played by the Armed forces by President Wilson in 1916, The Star Spangled Banner was officially designated as our National Anthem by Act of Congress, March 3rd, 1931.
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Most photographs by unknown photographers.