January 1 ~  The Stars and Stripes Common Thread: Mothers, Daughters,& Power of Empathy

"We have room in this country but for one flag, the Stars and Stripes. We have room for but one loyalty, loyalty to the United States. We have room for but one language, the English language." ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Keith Haring

Seamstress Betsy Ross (1752-1836), the legendary maker of the first American flag, was born Elizabeth Griscom on this day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The daughter of a Quaker carpenter, she was married and widowed three times and gained a reputation as an excellent needle-worker.

"Excellence," said writer John W. Gardner, "is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well."

According to grandson William J. Canby, a committee headed by Robert Morris and George Washington commissioned Mrs. Ross in 1776 to sew a flag according to their rough design.

The plan for the "Stars and Stripes" called for a six pointed star, but Ross convinced Washington that five would do. In June of the same year, the flag was adopted by a resolution issued by the Continental Congress.

Although there is no evidence to support Canby's version, throughout history Betsy Ross has been a heroine of freedom and a symbol of the contributions of women to the American Revolutionary War.

And her flag has come to represent the goodness of her country: the red represents hardiness and courage; the white, purity and innocence; and the blue vigilance, perseverance, and justice.

"The union of hearts, the union of hands," wrote poet George Pope Morris. "And the flag of our Union forever."

United we stand, divided we fall.