Elizabeth Griscom Ross was born on January 1, 1752, the 8th of 17 children. Ross worked as an early American upholster and seamstress, and claimed to have done tailoring for George Washington. She had seven children, five of which lived to adulthood.
According to the popular story of the origin of the Stars and Stripes, George Washington, commander-in-chief of the fledgling Continental Army approached Betsy Ross with a design for a new American flag. He was accompanied by two members of a congressional committee, Robert Morris and George Ross.
Betsy Ross convinced General Washington to change the shape of the stars in the sketch of a flag he showed her from six-pointed to five-pointed stars by demonstrating that it was easier and faster to cut the latter. While there is no real historical evidence this meeting ever took place, it is known that Betsy Ross was hired to make flags for the Pennsylvania Navy during the Revolutionary War. Below is an order entry dated May 29, 1777 to pay Mrs Ross for her work.
An order on William Webb to Elizabeth Ross for fourteen pounds twelve shillings and two pence for Making Ships Colours [etc.] put into William Richards store……………………………………….£188.8.131.52
Betsy Ross was a Quaker, an outspoken abolitionist, and a strong supporter of the women’s right to vote movement. She died on January 30, 1836 and has been buried in three different locations:
Free Quaker burial ground at South 5th St. near Locust
Mt. Moriah Cemetery
On Arch Street in the courtyard adjacent to the Betsy Ross House.
Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States dedicated to remembering the people who died while serving in this country’s armed forces. This holiday is observed every year on the last Monday of May. The date has changed in recent history. From 1868 until 1970, Memorial Day was observed on May 31st. For many Americans, this holiday also marks the unofficial start of the summer vacation season.
Traditionally, those celebrating Memorial Day visit cemeteries and memorials to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries. I have participated in this several times. First, while a Boy Scout in my earlier years. Then, a few years ago, I attended such a ceremony at the Military Cemetery in Knoxville, Tennessee with Jackie, the daughter of a very good friend. I was deeply moved and reminded of how much this County, it’s Flag, and those who have died defending it all, mean to me.
The practice of decorating soldier’s graves is an ancient custom. In the United States, soldier’s graves were decorated before and during the Civil War. This American holiday is a heartfelt remembrance of those who chose to make a stand rather than take a knee!
The Difference between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day.
Memorial Day should not be confused with Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering the men and women who died while serving their Country, Veterans Day, observed annually on November 11th, celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.
A Memorial Day Poem by Joyce Kilmer (12/12/1886 – 0/30/1918)
Who was Joyce Kilmer?
Joyce Kilmer was a prolific American writer and poet. He was also an American veteran who give his life in the service of his Country. In April of 1917, just days after the United States entered World War I in 1917, Kilmer enlisted in the Seventh Regiment if the New York National Guard. Kilmer deployed to France with the famous “Fighting 69th” and rapidly worked his way up to the rank of Sergeant. Though offered a commission as an officer he declined, stating that he would rather be a sergeant in the Fighting 69th than an officer in any other regiment.
In April of 1918, Kilmer was transferred to the military intelligence section of his regiment. Kilmer was highly respected by the men who served with him. There are many stories of his coolness and his bravery on scouting patrols into “no man’s land.” Indeed, it was this coolness and bravery, along with his habit of volunteering for the most dangerous and difficult missions, that ultimately led to his death.
Second Battle of Marne
During the Second Battle of Marne, the last days of July had seen very heavy fighting. On July 30th, 1918, Kilmer volunteered to accompany Major “Wild Bill” Donovan (who later, during WWII founded the Office of Strategic Services, forerunner to the CIA). Donovan’s battalion, the 1/165 Infantry, was ordered to lead the assault. During the course of the day’s fighting, Kilmer led a scouting party to locate the position of a German machine gun. Crawling to the edge of a little hill for a better view of the terrain, he was killed by a sniper’s bullet. Kilmer died at the age of 31. The French Republic posthumously awarded the Croix de Guerre (War Cross) to Joyce Kilmer. Kilmer left behind his wife, Aline Murray, another accomplished poet and five children. Below is his poem about Memorial Day:
“Dulce et decorum est”
The bugle echoes shrill and sweet,
But not of war it sings to-day.
The road is rhythmic with the feet
Of men-at-arms who come to pray.
The roses blossom white and red
On tombs where weary soldiers lie;
Flags wave above the honored dead
And martial music cleaves the sky.
Above their wreath-strewn graves we kneel,
They kept the faith and fought the fight.
Through flying lead and crimson steel
They plunged for Freedom and the Right.
May we, their grateful children, learn
Their strength, who lie beneath this sod,
Who went through fire and death to earn
At last the accolade of God.
In shining rank on rank arrayed
They march, the legions of the Lord;
He is their Captain unafraid,
The Prince of Peace . . . Who brought a sword.
~ Joyce Kilmer
Have a Wonderful Memorial Day!
So, please enjoy your Memorial Day in any manner you see fit. By all means, go camping, picnic at the lake, eat hot dogs and hamburgers, drink beer, play in softball tournaments, watch old war movies on television, go hiking, biking, walk your dog, do whatever it is that makes Memorial Day special for you. But, try to take a few minutes to remember those who gave their lives so that you actually have the freedom to celebrate this great American holiday in the manner that you do choose.
Not long ago I learned about another famous American Tea Party. However, it seems it is famous only to a relatively small group of people. On the way to Elizabeth City, NC in northeastern North Carolina, I passed through a small town called Edenton. I learned Edenton is famous for its own Revolutionary War era Tea Party. I had never heard of this. Therefore, I decided to do a little digging.
The Other Tea Party
The Edenton Tea Party … a political protest organized in Edenton, North Carolina in 1774. Like the Boston Tea Party, it was in response to the Tea Act passed by the British Parliament in 1773. The Edenton Tea Party is a historic landmark event. Not because of the boycott on tea … such protests were happening all across the Thirteen Colonies. This tea party is most noteworthy because women organized it.
Meet Penelope Barker
Penelope Barker led a group of 51 women who met on October 25, 1774. These women wrote and signed a statement of protest, vowing to give up tea and boycott other British products.
In addition, Barker decided their protest should reach ears in England. Therefore, she sent a copy of the declaration to the British press. Penelope Barker stated:
Maybe it has only been men who have protested the king up to now. That only means we women have taken too long to let our voices be heard. We are signing our names to a document, not hiding ourselves behind costumes like the men in Boston did at their tea party. The British will know who we are.
The 51 Women
The Signers of the Declaration include: Abagail Charlton, Mary Blount, F. Johnstone, Elizabeth Creacy, Margaret Cathcart, Elizabeth Patterson, Anne Johnstone, Jane Wellwood, Margaret Pearson, Mary Woolard, Penelope Dawson, Sarah Beasley, Jean Blair, Susannah Vail, Grace Clayton, Elizabeth Vail, Frances Hall, Mary Jones, Mary Creacy, Anne Hall, Rebecca Bondfield, Ruth Benbury, Sarah Littlejohn, Sarah Howcott, Penelope Barker, Sarah Hoskins, Elizabeth P. Ormond, Mary Littledle, M. Payne, Sarah Valentine, Elizabeth Johnston, Elizabeth Crickett, Mary Bonner, Elizabeth Green, Lydia Bonner, Mary Ramsay, Sarah Howe, Anne Horniblow, Lydia Bennet, Mary Hunter, Marion Wells, Tresia Cunningham, Anne Anderson, Elizabeth Roberts, Sarah Mathews, Anne Haughton, and Elizabeth Beasly.
Finally, while many famous documents from the American Revolution exist in the united States, this petition survives only through British accounts. The text of the petition, and the list of signers, was printed in the Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser on January 16, 1775. As a result, many Americans do not even know this Tea Party occurred.
The full text of the petition is as follows:
As we cannot be indifferent on any occasion that appears nearly to affect the peace and happiness of our country, and as it has been thought necessary, for the public good, to enter into several particular resolves by a meeting of Members deputed from the whole Province, it is a duty which we owe, not only to our near and dear connections who have concurred in them, but to ourselves who are essentially interested in their welfare, to do every thing as far as lies in our power to testify our sincere adherence to the same; and we do therefore accordingly subscribe this paper, as a witness of our fixed intention and solemn determination to do so.