Veteran’s Day will be upon us soon and I thought I'd write a blog that connects my newest historical fiction novel, TWICE BETRAYED, a MG historical fiction set in Colonial Philadelphia to Veteran's Day.
What does Colonial Philadelphia have to do with Veteran’s Day, you may ask. Simple…The American Flag!
Our “Stars and Stripes” fly high on Veteran’s Day – in parades, in front of government buildings, in military cemeteries, and on citizen’s homes, much like the flag that flies in front of Betsy Ross’s house on Arch Street, in Philadelphia.
In the United States, Veterans Day celebrates the people who served our country in the military during times of war and peace. But serving our country did not originate with the conclusion of WWI, when Veteran’s Day was first celebrated. (November 11th, 1919). We could go back to The Revolutionary War to find people who served our country. And my main character, thirteen-year-old Perdy Rogers is one of them. In my story, it is she, not her employer, Betsy Ross, who created the first American flag.
Why can I do that? Didn’t we all learn that Betsy Ross made the first flag, the one with the thirteen stars in a circle? Well, yes we did. But unfortunately we now know that information has never been verified.
Mini-History Lesson J Excuse me, but once a teacher, always a teacher!Actually, George Washington, George Ross (Betsy’s husband’s uncle) and Robert Morris asked anyone who was able to sew, to design a flag for the U.S. Continental Army.
That included haberdashers (dealers in men’s clothing and sewing articles), tailors (clothes makers), mantuamakers (women’s dressmakers), seamstresses (women who sewed clothing or household items), and upholsterers. (people who designed and sewed furniture with coverings, stuffing, and springs, bed ticking and draperies)
So anyone who sewed could have designed the flag we know today as having thirteen stars in a circle and the thirteen red and white stripes, which both represented our colonies.
It wasn’t until 1870, almost 100 years after the Revolutionary War and 34 years after her death that Betsy Ross’ grandson, William J. Canby, presented a paper to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, claiming it was she who made the first flag. But he had only old family stories and no real proof. Even Betsy Ross never claimed to have made the flag, only the five-pointed star.
Accused of being a Loyalist spy, she hunkers down in the upholstery shop and makes a lap quilt for her little sister, who falls ill after Perdy sneaks her out of the house on a damp night to help friends carry out an elopement for an older girl.
But the next day the girl, a milliner’s apprentice, is found drowned with coded spy letters in her bodice, gold coins sewn into her hems, and a hand-written journal implicating an unnamed sewing apprentice in Philadelphia as her accomplice. Suspicious eyes turn to Perdy.
But Perdy is no spy!
Today, our flag still has thirteen red and white stripes that represent the original colonies, but the stars, which represent our states, now number fifty.
TWICE BETRAYED is available on Amazon both as an e-book, a hard cover, or a paperback.
Below, children can make their own American flag in honor of Veteran’s Day, or replicate the first American flag. All you need for either is a photo of the flag and…
1. Paper Flag – 1 piece 24” x 36” red construction paper.
-1 piece 24” x 36” white construction paper cut into 13/4” strips
-1 piece 9” x 12” blue construction paper
-1 package of gold foil sticky stars
Put flag together based on photo of the Colonial Flag
2. Ribbon Flag – 1 piece 9” x 12” blue felt
-1 embroidered stick’em stars
- 13 36” strips of red and white, lace, ribbons, fabric
-1 spring-loaded curtain rod
Doing something to celebrate Veterans Day with children is a great way to honor those who have kept our country safe. And reading TWICE BETRAYED together, might be a way to spur an interest in our American history.