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The American nation matured in relative isolation, which is part of our strength, but through trade and other factors, we are active participants in the community of nations. Our system is flawed, and we know it. One of the things that makes the American Experiment unique is that rather than hiding our flaws and shortcomings, we accept them as a challenge to do better. Other nations are rightfully resentful at what they see as American interference with their affairs, but they acknowledge that in times of need, America is usually the first to offer a helping hand.
June 14, 1777, was a busy day for the delegates of the Second Continental Congress. On that day, the delegates adopted a resolution to form the Continental Army, the forerunner of the United States Army, under the command of General George Washington, The same day, the Flag Resolution was adopted, which reads, "Resolved, 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."
A few weeks later, news of the Flag Resolution reached the western Mohawk River Valley where soldiers from New York and Massachusetts were under siege by superior forces at Fort Stanwix. Massachusetts militia forces managed to reach the Fort as reinforcements and brought news of the Resolution. According to legend, soldiers tore their shirts for the White Stripes, officer's wives contributed flannel from their petticoats for the Red, and a square of Blue was cut from a Captain's coat (Congress later authorized the Officer to be paid for the ruined coat). Thus, the Flag of the United States officially flown for the first time in battle.
There is no authoritative record of the exact form of the Ft Stanwix Flag, the Resolution did not specify the number of red or white stripes, their direction, or even the number of points on the Stars. Another early Flag legend states that members of the Congress were upset after hiring Philadelphia upholsterer Betsy Ross to produce a flag, the Stars on Ms. Ross's Flag had five points rather than the anticipated six. However, the Betsy Ross flag was widely adopted with its circle of Thirteen Stars, the points facing outward.
The current Flag design (the 27th) was submitted as part of a high school US History project by Bob Heft. Bob received a B- for his effort and when he complained about the grade his teacher told him to submit the design to the government, if it was good enough for Washington DC, it would be good enough for an "A". Two years later, Bob was contacted by the Eisenhower White House to be present when the President would adopt his design (by this time, Heft had graduated and the B- was not changed).
By law, a veteran of the United States Armed Services is entitled to a Military Funeral, if requested by the member's family. An Honor Guard of not less than two service members, at least one of whom will represent the deceased's parent service. The Flag of the United States is draped over the coffin, a rifle party consisting of an odd number (between three and seven) of riflemen will fire three volleys, and a bugler (if available) will be provided to sound "Taps". Before internment, the Flag over the coffin is meticulously folded thirteen times, ending in a tricorne shape with the Stars pointing upward (traditionally, a shell casing from each of the rifle volleys was slipped into the folds of the Flag, but this practice has fallen from favor).
After folding, the Honor Guard presents the flag to the Next of Kin, "On behalf of a grateful Nation… please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved ones honorable and faithful service".
We don't have to tell people why America is great. If you already believe it, then you will appreciate the sentiment in this collection. If you do not understand, perhaps the shows here will provide some insight.
- Edison Amberol Wax Cylinder Recording, 1910, Frederic H. Potter and the New York Military Band. The tune is equal parts marching tune, sappy romantic desire, and Patriotic Rag. A fun listen to recordings in the early 20th century.
- "Toward the Century of the Common Man", President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, June 14, 1942. On this Flag Day, President Roosevelt sits down with the leaders of Mexico and the Republic of the Philippines to sign the United Nations Declaration. In the speech, Roosevelt invokes the "Four Freedom" which the Flag helps to represent.
- Lest We Forget, July 31, 1948, "The American Dream". Tom Slater used his G.I. Bill to attend divinity school and is hired as assistant minister at St Matthews, the church of the town's well-heeled but sits on the border of "Honkytown", populated by immigrants and outsiders who came to work in the War plant. The plant has closed, and the "Honkies" are no longer welcome, what should a Veteran who is also a Man of God do?
- Proudly We Hail, May 25, 1952, "Our Women in Service", "A Ring of Stars". Sponsored by Army and Air Force Recruiting, pitching opportunities for the WAACs. The legend of Betsy Ross told from the point of view of her Quaker uncle, Abel James, a sea trader who, despite being a Pacifist, is intimately entangled in the quest for liberty. The story is highly fictionalized but inspiring.
- Gulf Screen Guild Theatre, CBS, December 7, 1941, "Between Americans". The story behind this episode is nearly as important as the story told on the episode. Two of the most important figures who used the entertainment value of radio to tackle important social issues were Norman Corwin and Orson Welles. Norman Corwin has been called "the Poet Laureate of Radio", and he almost single-handedly put the artistry of CBS's Columbia Workshop on the map. Orson Welles had built a reputation of notoriety for his October 1938 broadcast of The War of the Worlds, and he rode that notoriety to one of the most lucrative new director contracts in Hollywood history. His opus, Citizen Kane (1941) was struggling at the box office, despite critical acclaim. Welles sent a telegram to Corwin, all but begging to work on a broadcast together (Mr. Corwin held on to the telegram for the rest of his life as a personal treasure). The first chance they would get fell during the first week of December when Corwin's script of "Between Americans" was scheduled. The program was a sound portrait of America, but Corwin was unable to direct the episode because he was preparing the broadcast of "We Hold These Truths" for the 150th anniversary of the Bill of Rights the following week. Welles directed the all-Star cast of "Between Americans" himself, and the broadcast took on a special significance because the US Fleet at Pearl Harbor was attacked that morning. (Corwin got word of Pearl Harbor while traveling by train to Los Angeles to put the final touches on Truths. He sent a telegram to the U.S. Office of Education to see if the government wanted to move forward with the project. The reply came the next day, "The President thinks it's more important now than ever to proceed with the program."
- Treasury Star Parade, 1942, Episode #1. "The Statue of Liberty". The program is a series of quarter-hour dramas syndicated by the Treasury Department, designed to encourage listeners to purchase War Bonds, using "Any Bonds Today?" as a theme song, hosted by movie actor and Navy Lt Robert Montgomery. This episode opens with baritone Igor Gorin's operatic rendition of The Pledge of Allegiance. The evening's drama is "The Statue of Liberty", acted by theater greats Judith Anderson and Maurice Evans, a refugee from War-torn France has arrived in New York Harbor and engages in an inspiring conversation with Lady Liberty.
- Lady Esther's Screen Guild Theatre, October 19, 1942, "Yankee Doodle Dandy". James Cagney stars in a somewhat fictionalized biography of showman George M. Cohan. In the decade before the Great War, Cohan was dubbed "the man who owned Broadway" for his influence on American Show Business. The film is built around Cohan being presented a Congressional Medal by FDR for his contribution to troop morale during WWI. The inspiration for his songs "Over There" and "Yankee Doodle Boy" are covered in the show. Cagney and Cohan, both sons of Irish immigrants, represent American success stories.
- Philco Radio Time/The Bing Crosby Show, November 26, 1947, ABC. In this day before Thanksgiving Day broadcast, Bing narrates the story of "The Man Without a Country", originally published in The Atlantic Monthly magazine in its December 1863. Released during the dark days of the Civil War, the story is an allegory for the Union cause of remaining a United country. The tale begins in 1807 when Army Lieutenant Philip Nolan is on trial for treason because of his friendship with the traitor, Aaron Burr. At his trial, Nolan cries, "I wish I may never hear of the United States again!" In shock, the judge sentences Nolan to be exiled to US Naval vessels, never to set foot in the country again, and the crews of the ships where he spends his life are instructed to never mention news of the United States. (Recording Note: The story is broadcast on Philco Radio Time, but may be a recording made by Decca Records, recorded in June and released on September 15, 1947. The story was recorded on two 78-rpm disks, with parts One and Four on the first disk, and Two and three on the second, to facilitate their play on new turntables, including Philcos, with automatic record changers.)
- You Are There, July 4, 1948, "The Signing of the Declaration of Independence". Newsman John Daly describes the events at the Philadelphia State House when the adoption of the Declaration is under debate. According to the report the delegates of the Continental Congress are hardly united at this point on the issues. Pennsylvania representative John Dickinson speaks for those opposing separation from the mother country, and John Adams accuses him of being an agent of the enemy. The debate extends into street violence outside the Hall. A dispatch from General George Washington in New York brings bitter news of the War. The program, originally titled CBS Is There, presents historical events as though they are occurring in real time. The CBS News staff works with creator Goodman Ace to create the illusion that, "All things are as they were then, except you... are... there!"
See also: More Patriotic Old Time Radio Collections
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