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Betsy Ross House

239 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

 

Betsy Ross was a widow working as a seamstress who, according to a strongly held tradition, sewed our first stars and stripes at the request of General Washington. Her pew was next to the Washingtons’ pew at Christ Church. According to this tradition, Betsy is credited with helping Washington to decide to use five- rather than six-pointed stars on the flag due to the ease in their creation by one snip on a neatly folded cloth. This tradition reflects the compassion of James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (NIV).

Our nation’s colors of red, white and blue were selected by congress for our flag on June 14, 1777, a day that we still celebrate annually as Flag Day. The meaning of these colors was explained by the Continental Congress with the establishment of our Great Seal on June 20, 1782. You can see the Great Seal on the reverse side of a dollar bill. Congress said that the shield on the eagle should have the colors of red, white, and blue. Congress’ interpretation of the colors, following accepted rules of heraldry, represented seven different moral virtues. Congress said that red represented “heartiness and valor,” white represented “purity and innocence,” and blue represented “vigilance, perseverance and justice.” By implication, these same character qualities are before Americans whenever the flag of red, white, and blue is seen.

Each of these virtues is taught by the Scriptures. Heartiness and valor are seen in Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (NIV). James 1:27 calls for purity and innocence: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (NIV). Paul encourages Christians to have Christ-like perseverance in Hebrews 12:1b-2, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (NIV). Micah 6:8 commands justice: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (NIV). Vigilance is taught in Acts 20:28, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood” (NIV). Furthermore, 1 Thessalonians 5:6 says, “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” (KJV).