This We’ll Defend

John Hartvigsen

I fly the Stars and Stripes especially on Flag Day, the 14th of June; however, there is a second flag with great historical significance that I also fly: the U.S. Army Color, since the Continental Congress founded the U.S. Army on June 14, 1775, a full year before the Declaration of Independence and two years before the U.S. flag Resolution when the Continental Congress adopted the Flag of the United States of America.  Army Day is often overshadowed by Flag Day, but excuse my pride as an Army Vet, the Declaration of Independence would not have been possible without the Army.  Okay, the Marines and the Navy also played an important role in winning Independence for the United States of America.



One of the six flags displayed by Colonial Flag Foundation Healing Field® and Field of Honor® flag display events each year, the flags honor the Armed Forces that from the American Revolution to the war against terrorism have defended us as a nation and a people.  Individuals and especially veterans display the flags of the U.S. military services.  As a proud U.S. Army veteran, I display the Army Color to honor all those who have worn the army uniforms of our nation.

The original War Office seal showed the year 1778 in Roman Numerals.

The United States Army, of course, descended from the Continental Army, and the original Seal of the War Office, adopted in 1778, provides a fascinating and historic design that includes symbols recognizable in the late 18th Century but that can use interpretations in the 21st Century.

The main design depicts an ancient Greek tropaion, a memorial set up after a battle to honor the victors.  Our modern word trophy comes from this ancient way to honor victors.  These ancient memorials placed captured military equipment, weapons and standards on and around a tree stump, rock or stake; however, the 18th Century American Army tropaion placed emblematic American military arms, flags and standards symbolizing the included motto “This We’ll Defend.”

  • The Breastplate, a Roman cuirass provides at the center of the design and represents strength in defense.
  • The sword points up and is flanked by an spontoon or pole weapon and a musket with fixed bayonet are weapons carried by Continental Army soldiers.
  • A cannon, mortar, cannon balls and bombs symbolize artillery that supported infantry attacks.
  • The two flags displayed depict the Stars & Stripes carried as a National Color, with another flag including no specific design, which symbolized Colors that varied with each regiment.
  • Atop the upward pointing sword is the Cap of Liberty or Phrygian cap worn by free slaves of ancient Rome.
  • A rattlesnake with thirteen rattles arches around a scroll bearing the motto: “This We’ll Defend,” rather than the more common, “Don’t Tread on Me.”
  • A red scroll with the designation, “United States Army,” makes clear that the Army “will be the defender of the nation, and the numerals 1775 honor the year of the Army’s founding.

Flag of the United States Army

With its intricate design the U.S. Army flag used to be expensive to produce, but modern digital printing makes it available at a reasonable price for all Army vets and Americans who want to honor our senior military branch of service.  I will be flying mine.  Go Army!

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