Reelfoot DAR holds Flag Day luncheon
Posted: Friday, June 11, 2010 8:01 pm
The Reelfoot Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution recently enjoyed its annual Flag Day luncheon.
To commemorate June 14 as Flag Day, the speaker at the luncheon was Darbin Ousley of Dukedom, Ky. He is a member of the prestigious 7th Regiment of United States Infantry Living History Association. This organization participates in nationwide reenactments of early historical battles of the 7th U.S. Infantry. Their activities are dedicated to preserving and recreating the history of this infantry unit between the years of 1810-1850.
The actual 7th U.S. Infantry was first organized in Kentucky in April 1808. Their first encounter with a foreign foe was at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815 fighting against the British along side Gen. Andrew Jackson. The 7th Infantry Unit still exists and is now headquartered at Fort Stewart, Ga. It is the most decorated combat unit in U.S. history.
Ousley recounted the evolution of the official national flag. When the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, America had no official flag. No one knows for certain who designed the first American flag. One cherished myth is that Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag based on a sketch drawn by George Washington. Another and more probable story is that Francis Hopkinson, a Congressman from New Jersey and patriot, was the true designer of the flag. The journals of the Continental Congress show that he designed the flag.
During his presentation, Ousley displayed a reproduction of the flag believed to have been sewn by Betsy Ross. The American flag began with a stripe and a star for each state. As states were added to the union, it soon became apparent that a stripe could not be added for each new state. Therefore, the American flag, which flies today, has 13 stripes for the 13 original colonies and a white star for each of the 50 states on a field of blue.
Ousley also gave an account of the flag which inspired Francis Scott Key to write a poem which later became known as “The Star Spangled Banner” and the national anthem. This particular flag was commissioned by Maj. George Armistead to be sewn by Mary Pickersgill during the American War of 1812. The flag measured 30 feet by 40 feet. Armistead wanted to be sure the British could see the American flag flying over the fort from their ships. After witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay during a rainy night on Sept. 3, 1814, Key was inspired by the American victory and the sight of the large American flag still flying triumphantly above the fort. He penned a poem that was to become “The Star Spangled Banner” and the national anthem.
Ousley continued his presentation by sharing information about National Standards, Regimental Standards, Garrison Flags and battle streamers. The American flag could not be carried into battle during early history; therefore standards and garrison flags were designed to carry into battle leaving the American flag encamped for preservation. Battle streamers continue to be awarded to units for valor and merit during battle. These streamers are attached to the regimental standards on very special occasions and exhibited for all to see.
Ousley also enlightened the group regarding an 1812 War patriot, Bvt. Maj. John Jones, buried in Obion County on Floyd Shuck Road on the homeplace of Buddy and Catherine Roberts. Roberts is a descendent of Jones. Bvt. Maj. Jones transferred into and served in the 7th Infantry Unit from 1821-1825. Ousley’s association is working toward obtaining a historical marker for an Obion County highway commemorating the life and service of Bvt. Maj. John Jones.
Of interest to those present, it was learned that on Jan. 4, 1997, on the field at Chalmette where the Battle of New Orleans took place in 1815, the United States Army’s 7th Infantry Regiment stationed at Fort Stewart accorded the 7th U.S. Infantry Living History Association the honor of being authorized to carry the Regiment’s Battle Streamers on their regimental standards just as the active duty unit does. They are the only living history organization in this country which has ever been accorded so high an honor and responsibility. The 7th U.S. Infantry has been awarded 88 battle streamers from the War of 1812 through Desert Storm.
Ousley concluded his presentation by sharing with the group that the 7th U.S. Infantry Living History Association will be participating in a reenactment on July 4 at the Hermitage in Nashville, the home of President Andrew Jackson. The reenactment will portray the weary and war worn 7th U.S. Infantry of 1815 returning to their Kentucky homes from the Battle of New Orleans and stopping over at Gen. Jackson’s house for rest and recreation. Many historical reenactment events have been planned and the public is welcome.
On behalf of the chapter, at the conclusion of his program, Linda Lofton presented Ousley an American flag as a token of appreciation for his efforts in preserving and perpetuating the history of this great nation and for bringing the group a program of such enlightenment.
A delicious luncheon of salads, sandwiches and desserts were enjoyed by all present.
The next regular meeting of the chapter will be July 10 at the Obion County Museum on Edwards Street. The program will focus on public education.
Published in The Messenger 6.11.10