It is Flag Day and the U.S. Army’s Birthday

The roots of the U.S. Army grow deeper in American History than our nation’s independence.  The Delegates of the Continental Congress authorized the Continental Army on June 14th of 1777, which was a little more than a year before they declared independence, and exactly two years before they adopted the Stars and Stripes as the National Flag.

Before soldiers enlisted in the new Continental Army, the initial battles of the American Revolution were fought by militiamen from the British North American Colonies.  Their union in the struggle could be said to have begun with the founding of the Continental Army, which continued at Independence as the United States Army.

Military Color Guards carry flags on flagstaffs or pikes that are known as Colors.  The U.S. Army carries the Star and Stripes as its National Color, and a flag bearing a design that stretches back to the Revolution is carried as the Army’s Organizational Color.

The Color’s central emblem was designed in 1778 as the Seal of the War Office.  It is based on a Roman Legion monument called a tropaeum the they set up to commemorate a victory.   Legionnaires arranged the armor and weapons of a defeated enemy on and around a tree stump to construct a tropaeum.  The English word trophy comes from this Latin word.   Details about the War Office Seal include:

  • In the 18th century, Roman emblems became popular, and the board of the War Office chose a tropaeum with American weapons and flags displayed around a Roman breastplate called a cuirass as the central insignia.
  • A sword pointing upwards has a Phrygian cap supported on its point, which is a type of cap worn by freed slaves in ancient Rome.
  • Above the cap is a rattlesnake coiled around a scroll bearing the motto, “This We’ll Defend.”

187 Broad ribbon streamers—attached to the spearhead finial of the U.S. Army flag—trace the campaigns fought from the American Revolution to the current conflict in the Middle East.

The U.S. Flag, as noted, was adopted on the 2nd Anniversary of the creation of the Army.  It is more than appropriate that the Flag and the Army share the same birthday.  Carrying the National and Army Colors, the United States Army always answers the call.

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