Fitz: A fractured history of our flag

2014-07-04T00:00:00Z Fitz: A fractured history of our flagDavid Fitzsimmons The Arizona Daily Star​ Arizona Daily Star

A 4th of July history of "Old Glory"

1776 The Union flag is displayed Massachusetts. It has 13 alternate red and white stripes representing 13 colonies, which include a Swiss Colony Gift basket and one Nudist Colony in Plymouth favored by James “Nature Boy” Madison. The British Union Jack is displayed in the upper left-hand corner out of respect for the Rolling Stones, the singular aspect of British life the  rebels will miss. Within the day, merchants in New York are peddling Union flag codpieces, musket ball purses and whiskey flask cozies.

1776 Betsy Ross goes on “The Tom Paine Show”, claiming she sewed the first American flag. Benjamin Franklin points out the “Made in China “ label. A fist fight ensues.

1777  The Continental Congress declares that the flag of the thirteen United States be made of musket ball-proof materials. Ben “Ladies man” Franklin  insists that ladies must bare their ankles when it passes.

1814  Francis Scott “Off” Key writes “The Star Spangled Banner”. He places second on “Colonial Idol” behind Ethan Springsteen who wins with “Born in the U.S.A.”

1815 The Sons of Liberty Men’s Chorus attempts to sing “The Star Spangled Banner” at a “Francis Scott Key Tribute Gala” at the King’s Arms Tavern in Baltimore. After the dismal response Key is tarred and feathered by the unhappy troupe who prefers  “Born in the U.S.A.”.

1892 The “Pledge of Allegiance” is written by a socialist named by Francis Bellamy. This single fact will be responsible for 11,234 heart attacks at American civic clubs when it’s mentioned after the pledge has been recited by the members.

1897 A flag protection movement is born when occultists come to believe that fabric needs our help.

1932 Trampling, defacing, defiling, defying, avoiding, cajoling, wheedling, or joshing the flag is outlawed. The flag has no comment, but is curious about “defiling”.

1909 Robert Peary places a flag  atop the North Pole and witnesses Polar bears tossing coke bottles at the flag for sport. They are shot. Santa Claus holds a press conference, given wide coverage by the Hearst papers, announcing the Claus Doctrine, which asserts that the North Pole is sovereign territory and those who violate it will receive coal in their stockings.

1942 President Roosevelt approves the Federal Flag Code, providing guidelines for flag etiquette including when to curtsey, how to address the flag, and when it’s appropriate to use the tiny toothpick part of toothpick flags to pick your teeth.

1943 The Supreme Court holds that public school children could not be compelled to salute the flag, let alone clean up their rooms. Try getting them to eat right! The republic teeters on the brink and then waving its arms wildly to stop its fall, finds its balance, and backs away from the edge.

1949 Truman signs on to Flag Day so that the flag might have a day off. The New York Times reports most flags spend the day “just hanging out.”

1954 By act of Congress, the words "Under God" are inserted into the  “Pledge of Allegiance”. God expresses infinite relief.

1960 The flag gets 50 stars!

1968 Congress makes it illegal to cast contempt upon the flag.  Casters of contempt are furious.

1969 Neil Armstrong places the American flag on the Moon. The National Enquirer publishes a  grainy cover photo of what appears to be little green men throwing coke bottles at the flag for sport. Texas declares war on the moon.

1969  In the case of Don Rickles v. United States, the Supreme Court holds it’s not a crime to verbally disparage the flag. The Friars club of New York celebrates by hosting a roast of “Old Glory”. The flag takes it all in good humor and turns the table on the dais with hilarious closing remarks. “You think I look good in stripes? I’d like to see you in stripes! With a matching ball and chain!”

1972 The Supreme Court rules it’s not a crime to wear the flag on the seat of your pants.

1973 The Supreme Court rules it is a crime to wear a  group portrait of the Supreme Court justices on the seat of your pants.

1989 The Supreme Court applies the First Amendment to flag burning when it rules Texas cannot barbecue a flag burner because that would violate free speech and taste awful.

1989 The Federal Flag Protection Act passes, prohibiting flag desecration under all circumstances except when politicians use flags as political campaign props. Smokey the Bear spends the next few weeks beating out flag fires across America and clubbing protestors with his shovel.  The Supreme Court says knock it off.

1995  An Amendment to the Constitution making flag-burning a crime goes up in smoke in the senate.

2002 A 9th Circuit federal appeals court declared that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is unconstitutional because "under God"  was a violation of the Establishment Clause which essentially states that if God needs our help it’s pretty well established that He’ll call.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

About this blog

David Fitzsimmons is the Star's editorial cartoonist.

To reach Fitz call 520-573-4234 (office) or email him at tooner@tucson.com.

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