Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Two #39’s?

Monday, November 22nd, 2010
38 star US flag

38 star US flag

So you know how it goes: you don’t think of something for a while, then – wham! – you get a double or sometime triple dose of it.

After our last posting riveting you, Dear Reader, with the fascinating story about how a star gets added to the US flag on the July 4th after a State is admitted to the Union, a casual search on Twitter socked me right in the eye – figuratively, of course.

43 Star US flag

43 Star US flag

Yesterday, one Bryan LaPlace, a columnist for, wrote an article about an obscure occurrence of some US flags that were found in 1970: seems they had 39 stars each. Well, you’ll just have to read the article to realize that there never was an actual 39 star US flag, even though two states could claim the right to that star.

What was frustrating was that the flags were discovered “in Upsala College’s newly acquired art center”. Then the article goes on to say a) “The college closed in 1995.” and b) “the flags would be displayed in a glass case in Upsala’s library.” Kind of leaves you hanging doesn’t it? Where are these flags? Why were no images provided? Who will solve this mystery? Inquiring vexillologists demand answers!

American Civil War flags – 150 years

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

Civil War Preservation Trust logoYesterday, November 6th, 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected 16th President of the United States. (Of course there’s lots of information to be found on the web about this, but the Civil War Preservation Trust here offers an objective synopsis.) Seemed like it was about time we wrote a little about the Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, a tragic page of our nation’s history.

A few months ago, we joined a couple of groups discussing the subject on LinkedIn  LinkedIn logo : the American Civil War (1861-1865) Living Historians and the Civil War Sesquicentennial Network. The latter is more frequently posted to and from it we found a post entitled “Irish in the American Civil War & Commemoration Outside the US” and a link to an interesting blog about that spin on the subject.  Almost a year ago we posted the following to both of these groups: “Due to its place in time, Oregon’s 33 star flag was the first flag fired upon by the Confederate army in the Civil War. 2009 is Oregon’s sesquicentennial.” (You knew this was going to get around to flags, didn’t you?)

So, here’s the back story:

“By law, a new star is added to the US flag on July 4th, following the admission of a new state into the Union. Oregon was the 33rd State, being granted Statehood on February 14th, 1859. Hence the 33 star flag was adopted and flown until 1861.33 star US flag

Then Kansas was admitted and the flag had 34 stars up until 1863 when West Virginia joined the Union and the US flag had 35 stars until 1865. Etc., etc., etc.”

Of course as we’re based in Oregon, this seemed particularly relevant. Then, as we’re doing a little research for this blog, we discovered an interesting tidbit from the Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Historic Flag Page: “… at the time of the Civil War, there was no standard arrangement for the stars in the union of the flag, thus many different arrangements were used.” (Note the word “union” – lower case – here refers to the “canton” or upper left quadrant of the flag, not the Union side of the war. That’s just Flag Terminology 101 for you.)

So here’s an alternate arrangement called the “Fort Sumter” flag, namedFort Sumter flag because “… the garrison at Fort Sumter was still flying this 33 star flag at the time of the bombardment in April 1861.”

Fascinating stuff this vexillology – study of flags. Adding a layer of history to it, just makes it all the more so. In that light, Dear Reader, we thought you might enjoy seeing a few of the flags relevant to the Civil War:

Confederate 1st National

Confederate 1st National

Confederate 2nd National

Confederate 2nd National

Confederate 3rd National

Confederate 3rd National

Confederate Bonnie Blue

Confederate Bonnie Blue

Confederate Navy Jack

Confederate Navy Jack

General Lee's Headquarters

General Lee's Headquarters

Of course we would be remiss if we didn’t let you know that we can get all of these flags and more for you. They’re not all on our website, but we would certainly be responsive if you were to contact us regarding their availability.

Regardless, we hope you liked this little flag sojourn into American history and would greatly appreciate your comments below. Thanks!

Semper Paratus

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Unites States Coast GuardFounded 220 years ago today, 4 August 1790, as the “Revenue Cutter Service”, the United States Coast Guard can claim to be the United States’ oldest continuous seagoing service. Yes, yes, of course we carry flags and some great patches of the Coast Guard, but that’s not the point here. And why is it that the Coast Guard is listed last in “Precedence of Members of Armed Forces of the United States When in Formations” as reported in our newsletter Volume 7 Number 1 back in 2008? But again, that’s not the point.

United States Coast Guard flag

Cool, eh?

What I’m trying to get to here is their motto: “Semper Paratus“, Latin for “Always Ready” or “Always Prepared” – but you knew that. It’s pretty cool. Kinda like the “Be Prepared” of the Scouts and Girl Guides. (Great article with translations on Wikipedia, albeit a little gruesome.) It certainly means more than just carrying a cool pocket knife.

Harper's MagazineActually, the cover article of August’s issue of Harper’s Magazine, entitled Happiness is a worn gun: My concealed weapon and me, by Dan Baum (sorry, gotta subscribe or mooch a copy to read it), talks about “conditions of readiness”. To paraphrase:

  • Condition White is total oblivion to one’s surroundings …
  • Condition Yellow is being aware of, and taking an interest in, one’s surroundings …
  • Condition Orange is being aware of a possible threat.
  • Condition Red is responding to danger.

(Personally, I rather like hanging around somewhere between White and Yellow.)

Anyway, chatting with my buddy, Tim, from Hopkins Demonstration Forest at this morning’s Chamber of Commerce meeting, he was recalling in his youth working as a bush fire fighter or some such occupation: even in the slow season, they were required to always be about some task, preparing equipment and such, in preparedness for when it would be needed. The thought was actually echoed by another buddy, Steve, PIO for the Fire District, in his introduction at the same meeting, about always needing to be vigilant, although I don’t remember him using such a big word.

So, maybe there’s the message: keep your head up, don’t freak out, and let’s be thankful for those who protect and serve us.

Aussies, Kiwis and Armenians in the “cruel month” of April

Sunday, April 25th, 2010
Flag of Australia

Flag of Australia

ANZAC Day is not widely commemorated here in the US. Pity, that. In Australia and New Zealand it’s one of the most widely celebrated days of the year. It’s a rare thing indeed that two sovereign nations share the same rememberance day; perhaps rarer is the fact that the name of both countries are represented in the acronym:  ANZAC stands for “Australian and New Zealand Army Corps”.

Flag of New Zealand

Flag of New Zealand

There’s a fine article regarding ANZAC Day on Wikipedia of course so I won’t try to re-hash all that here for you, but encourage you to read that for yourselves, Dear Readers. Find out about the Dawn Service and other interesting facts surrounding this event.

Here, I’d simply like to point out just a couple of things.

Anzac Cove

A view of Anzac Cove, Çanakkale, Gallipoli, Turkey

In Gallipoli, Turkey, where ANZAC personnel were deployed, stands a monument. Again, Wikipedia treats this in much more detail, but I was struck by the words inscribed on that monument and at a similar monument in Canberra, Australia. It reads:

Those heroes that shed their blood And lost their lives. You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side Here in this country of ours. You, the mothers, Who sent their sons from far away countries Wipe away your tears, Your sons are now lying in our bosom And are in peace After having lost their lives on this land they have Become our sons as well.

Pretty touching, eh? That really gets me.

So here’s what’s puzzling: you may know that smALL FLAGs now ships to over 40 foreign countries. Mostly all that shipping is sent via the United States Postal Service® (USPS). USPS logoWhen we use their website to print the postage labels, it lists restrictions or prohibitions for the specific country to which we are shipping. For Australia it lists:

Coins; bank notes; currency notes (paper money); securities of any kind payable to bearer; traveler’s checks; platinum, gold, and silver (manufactured or not); precious stones; jewelry; and other valuable articles are prohibited.
Fruit cartons (used or new).
Goods bearing the name “Anzac.”

It’s that last one of course that I just don’t understand. Shipments to New Zealand have no such prohibition.

Flag of Armenia

Flag of Armenia

And here’s an interesting tie-in: today was ANZAC Day, but yesterday, April 24th, was the 95th commemoration of the Armenian genocide. The total number of resulting Armenian deaths is generally held to have been between one and one and a half million.

I phoned my Armenian buddy, Artur, yesterday to express my condolences. He touchingly told me that during those hard times he lost half of all his relatives.


Armenian civilians are marched to a nearby prison in Mezireh by armed Turkish soldiers. Kharpert, Ottoman Empire, April 1915.

When will we ever learn to get along?