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Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Behring Center
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July 1942: United We Stand
The Flag In World War II
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First U.S. flag to enter Berlin, 1945
NMAH Armed Forces History Collection
Bequest of Major General John J. Maginnis

  First U.S. flag to enter Berlin, 1945

On June 23, 1945, a convoy of U.S. military personnel entered Berlin, Germany, to confer with Russian authorities and establish control of the American sector of the jointly occupied city. Forty-eight-star U.S. flags, handmade in the nearby town of Halle, were specially ordered for the convoy vehicles. Colonel John J. Maginnis, a field officer involved with the U.S. Army’s military government operations, kept one of these flags and framed it as a souvenir of the historic event.

With the end of World War II, the American flag came to symbolize the new roles and responsibilities the nation would undertake as a world power: helping to rebuild postwar Europe, forming alliances aimed at curbing future aggression, and fighting a “cold war” against the spread of communism.

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