Editor note: Thanks to James Toedtman of Savannah for this timely quiz.
On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress “resolved that the flag of the United States be 13 stripes alternate red and white; that the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation,” according to the congressional journal. Test yourself on the 245th anniversary of that historic day. How much do you know about the American flag and about the national holiday we celebrate.
- Match the flag’s colors — a) Red, b) White, c) Blue — with what Congress said they represent:
1- purity and innocence; 2) Valor and hardiness; 3) Vigilance, perseverance and justice.
2. The Star Spangle Banner was written to celebrate the U.S. forces surviving the British attack on a) Independence Hall in Philadelphia, b) the Capitol building in Washington, c) Fort McHenry in Baltimore, d) Fort Pulaski in Savannah.
3. Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangle Banner from the deck of a British ship. Why was he there? a) Key was negotiating the releases of an American doctor/spy, William Beanes; b) Key was spying on the British navy; c) Key was a journalist watching the battle; d) Key was a British agent.
4. Which of the following features of the actual Star Spangled banner flag is NOT true: a) it had 15 stars; b) it had 15 stripes; c) the stars were in a circle; d) it’s now preserved at the Smithsonian Institution.
5. The Star Spangle Banner was written during which war? a) French-Indian war; b) Revolutionary war; c) War of 1812; d) A British sneak attack
6. The Star Spangled Banner was a poem that soon was attached to a popular drinking song, “Anacreon in Heaven.” Who was Anacreon? a) a popular 18th century bourbon; b) a Greek poet; c) an Episcopal saint; d) an 8th century Irish martyr.
7. There is no contemporaneous record that Betsy Ross actually made the first U.S. flag. Neither Washington, Jefferson Hamilton nor other colonial leaders mentioned Betsy Ross in their journals. What do we actually know about her role? A) she was a friend of Martha Washington; b) in 1870, Ross’s daughter, Rachel Fletcher, publicized and testified about Betsy’s primary role; c) she designed the gold, “don’t Tread on Me” flag; d) she was elected to Congress.
8. Why and when was the American flag first called “Old Glory?” a) It was the flag flown by Old Ironsides when it was launched in 1797, b) It’s a flag manufactured by the Old Glory Distilling Co. of Clarksville, TN, c) Shipmaster Captain William Driver of Salem, MA, called his flag “old Glory” as it first unfurled in 1831, then raised it occasionally from his Nashville, TN, home throughout the Civil War.
9. Which of these events actually occurred? a) Robert Peary posted the flag on the north pole in 1909; b) Barry Bishop planted the flag atop Mt. Everest in 1963; c) Neil Armstrong planted the flag on the moon in July 1969; d) all of the above.
10. Where did Uncle Sam come from? A) He was the Revolutionary War caricature for Yankee Doodle; b) during the War of 1812, Troy, N.Y. meat packer Sam Wilson of Troy, NY, shipped meal rations in barrels branded “U.S.” When they arrived, soldiers called them meals from “Uncle Sam;” c) it was the nickname Yankee soldiers attached to the most common 18th Century cannon, the 3-pound “galloper;” d) the World War I “We Want You” poster.
ANSWERS: 1. a-2, b-1, c-3; 2-c; 3-a; 4-c; 5-c; 6-b; 7-b; 8-c; 9-d; 10-b.