Providence Today: Betsy Ross House

Dr. Peter Lillback:
Welcome to Providence Today. We are standing at a very historic place in America. This is the house in upholstery shop of a single mother by the name of Betsy Ross. And as you can see, I’m holding a flag that’s called the Betsy Ross flag. It has the red and white stripes, but its stars have the 13 stars that are in the form of a circle. We could think of it as a sun or some type of a heavenly planet. But what’s remarkable about the story, the Betsy Ross flag is that this is the place where one of the ladies of America made a huge impact, not just on the founding of the country and the revolutionary war, but even onto American history this very day. She was a lady that was known from the local church George Washington had crossed her path. Francis Hopkinson who helped draft the design of the flag was the organist and a leader in that church as well.

Dr. Peter Lillback:
And they came to her here at this place and said, “We need a new flag.” And she’s the one that helped design what we know as the red, white, and blue, the stars and stripes, a symbol of America all over the world. In fact, now far into outer space. What a great gift this single mother made for the American story.

Dr. Peter Lillback:
Francis Hopkinson was one of the signers of the declaration. Of course, you know who George was, the great founding father of America. Why did they need a flag? Well, obviously this was a sign of a new country. The red and white stripes were clearly part the tradition that could be connected back with the Sons of Liberty up in Boston when they had that first Liberty Tree. And Washington had proposed that there would be a star for each of the colonies joining together and their resistance to the king and the desire to start a new country.

Dr. Peter Lillback:
And he proposed that there would be six pointed stars on the flag. Now it’s interesting of six pointed stars because Washington’s own personal coat of arms had six pointed stars. But according to the story that we have all the way back through Betsy Ross’s family. [inaudible 00:02:42] said, “General Washington, that takes a lot of work to cut five pointed stars. And you’re going to eat a lot of them and it’s going to be costly. It’s going to take a lot of time.” And taking a piece of cloth she folded it simply and with one snip, she made it a five point star. She said, “It’ll be a lot faster, a lot cheaper and we’ll get the job done.” Washington being a very frugal and thrifty man said, “It’s a deal.” I like to think of this story as reminding us that those who fight for liberty, not only do so when they’re on the battlefield, but when they’re serving their nation in uniform.

Dr. Peter Lillback:
But when they care for the things that shape the character and the values of the country. When Francis Hopkinson proposed this first draft of red, white, and blue with the stars and stripes, he knew a great deal about the science of what we called heraldry.

Dr. Peter Lillback:
That is the coats of arms and symbols that are used in government. And he recognized, and these values were actually written into the Continental Congress’ records that red, white, and blue actually had significant meanings in the tradition of heraldry. They were selected because of those values. Those seven moral values are still important. Although, most of us have never even heard anyone teaches them. We know that red stands for hardiness and valor, white for purity and innocence and blue for perseverance, vigilance, and justice. Those seven moral values are critical for the American experiment to continue. If we are not a hardy and brave people, we won’t have the strength to stand for liberty. If we lose sight of purity and innocence, meaning wanting to be right before God and faithful before the law, we will become a nation that will be lost in debauchery and corruption. And of course, perseverance, justice and vigilance, what the blue stands for. Perseverance means we continue even when things are hard. Perseverance means we don’t give up on the battlefield.

Dr. Peter Lillback:
We also know that justice means we give every man his due. We remember that there is right and wrong and we must stand for that. And we know those great words, “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” We continue to watch faithfully to preserve these gifts that have been passed down to us from Betsy Ross, from George Washington, from other signers of the declaration like Francis Hopkinson. Values that you need to do your part to preserve. Betsy Ross was a single mother and she was working hard to care for her family.

Dr. Peter Lillback:
She also was someone who cared for her country and used her skill in such a way that her flag still is in the news to this very day. In fact, we think of stars and stripes, the best known flag in the world and was first sewn right here in Philadelphia by Betsy Ross. Never forget how important your family is, how important you can be as a citizen, a patriot. We all make a difference and we do something to care for our nation. We are one nation under God and each of us doing our part will make a difference that will last forever. Well, I hope you’ll download our free Faith & Freedom app. Go look on our website, providenceforum.org. And if you’d like to know more information, it’s free of charge. It’d be a blessing for you to find it. Thanks so much. And remember, Providence is still at work and this is Providence Today.

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