Under Two Flags

Banner Image Article Under Two Flags

* November 7, 1942

The Territorial Commander had a pleasant surprise for the occasion—he was to present a session flag to the “Valiants.” As the Commissioner stood in the sunny bay recess, to the left the glorious United States flag, to the right the beautiful Salvation Army flag, a cadet stepped forward and saluted the Army flag, a cadet stepped forward and saluted the United States flag, and with much fervor of patriotism, recited the pledge of allegiance. Then, stepping back, the cadet saluted The Salvation Army flag and with voice vibrant with religious devotion, pledged allegiance to the cross.

How privileged Salvationists of this land are to serve under two such flags—the stars and stripes of the United States, and the yellow, red, and blue of The Salvation Army!

When we salute the flag of the United States of America, we are giving outward testimony of our nationality. We are showing our respect for the ideals and traditions, the institutions and principles for which the flag is the visible token.

When one salutes the flag he sees America, a great and mighty nation, created, united, and preserved by the efforts and sacrifices of brave and loyal men and women to whom ideals and honor of this wonderful country have been dearer than life itself.

When the United States was very young, General George Washington and a committee drew up the design for a flag. George Ross, one of the committee, took General Washington to Philadelphia to an upholstery shop in Arch Street, which was owned by Betsy Ross, a widow of George Ross’ nephew. They gave Betsy Ross the pattern of the flag with the order to make one. So it was that Betsy Ross made our first American flag, and it was adopted by Congress of the United States, June 14, 1777.

What battles our flag has been through and how proud we are that it has always come out victorious!

It is, indeed, an honor and a privilege to pay tribute to the banner of such a country.

What battles our church flags and our Salvation Army flag have come through!

When we recall the Crusaders, the Reformation, The Salvation Army, and the Pilgrim Fathers, the Wesleys, Martin Luther, Savanorola, William and Catherine Booth, what visions of martyrdom and sacrifice come to us!

When William Booth renamed the Christian Mission, The Salvation Army, in 1878, he and his followers felt the need of a flag—so William Booth designed the first Salvation Army Flag, a beautiful emblem of yellow, red, and blue. The red background symbolizing the Blood of Christ, the blue border, the Purity of God, and the yellow star in the center, the Fire of God’s Holy Spirit.

Let us, as God’s followers, no matter what our creed and doctrine, realize fully in our hearts the principles for which our Church flag stands. Let us be loyal and true.

President Roosevelt said, recently: “Perhaps not since the Fathers of the Constitution established freedom of religion have our people had greater need for a return to the teachings of the Master. Often in past years I have emphasized the need for a revival of religion. Many times I have emphasized that the one solution of the problems which confront a distraught world will be found in a return to the practical application to every-day life—among nations as among men—of the eternal principles of the Christian religion as summed up in the Sermon on the Mount.”

“We have received a splendid inheritance from the founders of the nation who, not being indifferent to religious principles, guaranteed freedom of conscience to all citizens and thereby made possible the free and unhampered development of the Christian life.”

May we, who are serving under two such flags, the red, white, and blue of these United States, and the yellow, red, and blue of The Salvation Army, have spiritual fortitude and courage and be guided by Divine wisdom and understanding so that we will exemplify to all mankind the strength and security that lie in spiritual things—thus shall those eternal verities for which these flags stand make our world a better, braver, finer, and freer place in which to live.

By Ethel Hols Abrams

*As The Salvation Army has continued for 152 years to reach the goals set by William Booth, the pages of the “War Cry” have faithfully represented the Army’s mission. This special Heritage edition emulates the “War Cry” during the era of World War II. Annual “Heritage” editions encapsulate the look, feel and content of the “War Cry” by decade. This special July issue is drawn from primary source material and is made possible by the efforts of the National Archives and Research Department and its Director Mrs. Susan Mitchem and Archivist Tyler Boenecke. May you be strengthened by the reminder that we stand on the shoulders of giants, surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, in this great salvation war.