History Lessons

History lessons is a grouping of historical stories and tidbits. The topics range from the American Civil War through interesting items from around the world. Please use the comments area to ask questions and make suggestions for future topics.

History Lessons

Nebraska state flag might change

Two women admire the Nebraska flag in 1925. (nebraskahistory.org)

A century and a half ago, Nebraska became the 37th member of the Union. And then it took a long time for the state to get its own flag to wave. The Cornhusker State almost didn’t join the U.S. at all. The roadblock was Andrew Johnson, who became president after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. In 1867,… continue

History Lessons

Unusual flags of the world

Paraguay's flag (wikipedia.org)

Most people can identify the national flags of the U.S., Great Britain and the Soviet Union. But hardly anyone can describe the unusual banners of the following countries: NAURU What does Nauru’s flag look like? The first response should be, “Where’s Nauru?” The answer to that gives a tiny clue to the flag’s design. An… continue

History Lessons

Lincoln and the errant flag

Lincoln's first inauguration with a flag flapping wildly in the wind. (wikipedia.org)

A previous article about American flags and Inauguration Days through the decades described how presidential ceremonies have often featured multiple banners and plenty of bunting to decorate the special day. An example in that article was Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address in 1865. His short, 700-word speech is renowned for his offer of reconciliation toward… continue

History Lessons

Inaugurations require flags

Surrounded by patriotic images, FDR takes his oath.

The inauguration of President Donald J. Trump calls to mind many flag-bedecked ceremonies of the past. Here’s a sampling: 1865 Abraham Lincoln’s second inauguration brought out flags, partly to salute him and partly to celebrate the upcoming end of the Civil War. A Washington newspaper reported that “the national flag in some shape, mammoth or… continue

History Lessons

Eulogy for a man who loved flags

Whitney Smith (wikipedia.org)

Anyone fascinated with flags – the American flag, foreign flags, flag laws and even a flag-related word he invented – should be interested in the life of Whitney Smith, who spent his 76 years adoring, studying, collecting and creating banners. When Smith died last November, The New York Times saluted him as a man “whose… continue