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Arts by Dylan: First Navy Jack SF Fleet Week 2023 Canvas

Arts by Dylan: First Navy Jack SF Fleet Week 2023 Canvas

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I recall in years past the US Navy's parachute team "Navy Leapfrogs" landing with an American flag or a POW MIA flag.  This was a special treat to see the American rattlesnake descend over the Golden Gate Bridge during Fleet Week. 
 
The Flag here is known as the First Navy Jack and is considered one of the more prestigous flags within the US Navy.  The reason why is because it is perhaps one of the oldest flags in the United States of America. 
 
Back in the 1770's the Navy's  and Pirates of the world used flags to represent what country the ship was flying under.  Because many navy vessels of the British, French, Spanish, and Americans were sometimes commodeered by pirates or other countries, the look of a boat or ship was often times not enough of an recognizble feature to determine friend from foe.  Often times a French vessel would be overtaken by a British ship, the crew imprisoned and the British Navy would then get a working vessel coutesy of of the French by winning it in the open seas.  Or any other combination of that sort of thing if pirates overtook a ship, the ship became a pirate ship. 
 
Because American vessels in the open seas prior to the American Revolutionary war of independence were considered British, they flew British flags.  After the war began it became necessary for the American Navy to adopt a new flag.  They came up with 13 red and white stripes so it won't be confused with the "Union Jack" of the British.  
 
The popular revolutionary phrase "Don't Tread on Me" was combined with a rattlesnake which was a symbol of being anti british monarchy.  The snake was a symbol of unification for America in part because of Benjamin Franklin publishing a snake cut up into 8 disconnected parts with the words "Join or Die" in his newspaper in 1754.  This message helped unifiy New Englanders with South Carolinians against the growing French threat during the French Indian wars.   Disconnected ideas from different parts of America being connected together under one flag or one idea is a common theme within American history and politics. 
 
The First Navy Jack was raised on ships along the Delaware River in 1775 and probably consisted of 13 red and white stripes without the phrase "Don't Tread on Me" and without the rattlesnake.  In February of 1776, Christopher Gadsden introduced what is known as the Gadsden flag to the contintental Congress.  This flag is ofcourse the recognizble yellow flag with a rattlesnake in the center with the words "Don't Tread on Me". It became a popular flag during the Revolution. 
 
Christopher Gadsden was also a member of the Naval Committee of the Contintental Congress, and he showed the flag to Esek Hopkins the commander and chief of the US Navy.  By the time the declaration of Independence was adopted in July of 1776, the South Carolina Navy and the US Navy adopted the rattlesenake as part of the First Navy Jack. 
 
In 1778 John Adams and Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to the King of Sicily thanking him for allowing American revolutionary ships into their ports.  The letter included a description of the Naval Jack which included references to the flag of South Carolina and a rattlesnake. 
 
Ever since 1880 the First Navy Jack has not changed.  It is also is a somewhat unofficial/official ensign of the US Navy.  The official Union Jack of the US Navy is a blue background with white stars. (not to be confused with the Union Jack of the British which featurs the cross of St. Andrews, St. George, and St. Patrick and is of a different ratio then most other ensigns, the Union Jack is 1:2 instead of the common 3:5 rectangle) 
 
The First Navy Jack became more common in the 1970's. To mark the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Bicentennial the US Navy allowed naval ships to fly the First Navy Jack for one year while at port or anchored.  In 1980 the US Navy only allowed the First Navy Jack to be raised on the oldest ships in the US Navy.
 
The flag was also allowed to be raised on naval ships after September 11th until the end of the Global War on Terrorism.  In 2019 the US Navy went back to the 1980 rule of only allowing the First Navy Jack to be used on the oldest ships of the fleet. 
 
This was my third SF Fleet Week and the first time I have seen them fly down with the First Navy Jack. 
 
Photographer: Dylan Carpowich
 
 
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