Betsy Ross flag reenactment presented to kids at North Shelby Library

Published 3:54 pm Wednesday, November 1, 2023

By SCOTT MIMS / Special to the Reporter

NORTH SHELBY—Groups of home-schoolers and after-schoolers got a visual lesson in American history on Oct. 16 and Oct. 18 during a reenactment of George Washington’s meeting with Betsy Ross to create the first U.S. Flag.

The Oak Mountain Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and members of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) presented the reenactment at the North Shelby Library in partnership with the library.

The actors portraying Washington and Ross were dressed in Revolutionary War-period costumes, and the kids participated as well by folding paper to create five-point stars for the first American Flag—a design that has carried over to our current 50-star flag.

“Getting kids to participate in making the five-point stars will hopefully help them remember how we came to have one flag for the United States representing the original 13 colonies, how it looked, and how it evolved to our flag today with 50 stars representing our 50 states,” said Shirley Loewen, vice regent of the Oak Mountain Chapter of DAR. “We think it’s important to teach American history and what better way than to introduce the role of Betsy Ross who took Gen. Washington’s ideas and created our first flag, and Gen. George Washington who was also a prominent figure in the Revolutionary War and who went on to become the first president of our United States of America.”

Ross was played by Stacey Higgins, also an Oak Mountain DAR member; and Washington was played by William Carter, president elect of the Cahaba Coosa Chapter of SAR. Washington’s attendants were portrayed by Bill Daniels, former state president of SAR, and Joel Fortson, also a member of Cahaba Coosa SAR.

The production was written and directed by Loewen and coordinated by Patricia Davis, regent of the Oak Mountain DAR, and Kate Etheredge, director of North Shelby Library.

“When George visited Betsy, he had a draft flag drawn,” Loewen explained. “It was square and had six-point stars. She suggested it be a rectangle flag with five-point stars.”

She said Ross’ suggestions were accepted, considering that the flag would fly more prominently if it were rectangular rather than square, and that stars would be quicker and more cost-effective to make if they had five points rather than six.

Ross made the 13 stars out of white cloth and placed them in a circle to represent unity between the 13 colonies. The stars were sewn onto blue cloth to represent a keen awareness and justice. There were 13 white stripes and 13 red stripes, to represent the colonies, and these were sewn in alternating colors. The white stripes represented purity and innocence, while the red stripes represented valor.

The simplicity of the five-point stars were demonstrated in how the children learned to fold and cut the paper to make the shapes.

“It made them pay attention, and they really felt like they contributed something,” Loewen said, adding that the SAR wants to do more joint ventures with DAR in the future.

“We plan to do more of these type things,” she said.