America's First Flag #1

by Michael Nystrom | November 5, 2012

Above is a picture of America's first flag, also known as the Grand Union Flag.

You've probably heard of it, or seen it.  This is the picture I carry of it, as the background image on my phone.  Whenever I get a chance, I show it to long time Bostonians, and ask them if they have ever seen it.  Invariably, they haven't.  I never had either, until about a year ago when I moved just a few blocks from where the flag was first hoisted by General George Washington on January 1, 1776, on Prospect Hill in Somerville, Massachusetts (back then, Charlestown).

It is a beautiful flag.  I love looking at it, and see her almost daily on my morning runs and midnight walks. Where the stars would be on our current flag, instead you see the British Union Jack.  I cannot look at it without pondering its significance. The flag was raised after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, but before America formally declared her independence.  General Washington raised the flag in the midst of  warfare, strife and revolution, in the latter half of the Siege of Boston, when the future was anything but certain.

Today the flag is long forgotten by most.  It was even left off this chronology of American flags I spotted in the gift shop of the Old North Church:

Prospect Hill is nowhere to be found on the Freedom Trail, which forms a compact loop in downtown Boston.  Tourist busses do not make regular stops, spilling out their passengers, as they do in Lexington and Concord.  That is fine by me. The sleepy solitude of Prospect Hill Park makes it one of Boston's best kept secrets, and a lovely place to read, meditate, or lay in the grass and ponder the state of the world.

The rhythmic banging of the flagpole is a comforting, ever present sound, though during Hurricane Sandy, I was afraid she might just blow away!

More updates coming soon.

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  1. Nice post. I didn't realize that's what our first flag looked like. Thank you for the information, and keep up the good work

  2. That's really cool. I never knew about this flag, but it deserves a place in our registry of history just like all the other flags.

  3. [...] Another marker of the Revolution, this one sits on top of Prospect Hill in Somerville, a few steps from America’s First Flag. [...]

  4. [...] Pic: America’s first flag, aka, the Grand Union Flag on a gray and blustery day – January 4, [...]

  5. [...] memorial pictured below at 181 Washington Street in Somerville MA, just down the hill from America’s First Flag, [...]

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