“Fun with Flags”

American Jack Flag

If you are familiar with “The Big Bang Theory” sitcom, you probably remember the episodes in which Sheldon and girlfriend Amy were creating a video series called “Fun with Flags.”  It was actually somewhat informative in a zany kind of way and I couldn’t help thinking of those programs when Tucker did his show-and-tell at our Friday night gathering.

Tucker is a collector.   An eclectic collector, I should say.  For some time (several years, probably), he has been bringing something-or-other to tell us about on Friday nights.  Usually he tells a little about how he acquired the particular item and then something about the item, itself.  We could almost call it our “Friday Night Educational Moment.”  Last Friday he brought a jack flag.

Grand Old Union Flag

Some of us knew what a jack flag is – it’s the part of the American flag with the stars.  Not all of us knew what it was used for except that maybe it had nautical implications and that the British flag is called the “union jack”.  Tucker said that he didn’t know all the ins and outs, but he did explain that the jack of the U.S.A. is a maritime flag, flown on the jackstaff on the bow of American vessels that are moored or anchored; the ensign (the entire national flag) is flown on the stern (rear) of the ship.  Once under way,  however, the ensign is flown from the main mast; its purpose is on the vessel is to indicate citizenry.

I did a little more digging and found that, according to legend, it was the “grand Old Union Flag” that was first raised at Cambridge where George Washington took command of the Continental Army.  Althought not  officially sanctioned by the Continental Congress, it was flown for some time during the Revolutionary War.  According to tradition, it was Betsy Ross, under the direction of Washington, who made our first sanctioned flag and it was she who suggested the five-point star because it was easier to make.  The Smithsonian Institution points out that there is no hard evidence that can connect Betsy Ross to the creation of the first flag.

The “Betsy Ross Flag”

I’m surprised that Sheldon and Amy of “The Big Bang Theory” didn’t talk about more of our American flags.  There have been many of them – especially during the early days of our country.  Too bad they couldn’t have been here Friday night.  I’m sure they’d have been inspired to renew their “Fun with Flags” episodes!

Leave a Reply