In recent days I have had numerous conversations with folks about business, community and our country and what they think they can do to “change” things. While many are the ideas that are “floated” about, it is clear that a “back to basics” approach is being sought. Last weekend’s Memorial Day parades and festivals brought out even more desire in community members to see more community events.
I am the son of generations of military men. They were proud people who wore the uniforms and respected the flag and what it stood for. A few years ago, I met with an area business man. He shared how he was “tough” about a lot of things, but when a five year old asked him to sing the Star Spangled Banner and that she would “do a good job” he said it was an emotional moment. Recently some of the largest viewed videos on the internet are young children singing the National Anthem. (I watch with an eye at the idiocy and bigotry surrounding the recent singing by Sebastien De La Cruz.)
Today we will celebrate Flag Day. It is a day for all Americans to celebrate and show respect for our flag, its designers and makers. Our flag is representative of our independence and our unity as a nation…..one nation, under God, indivisible. Our flag has a proud and glorious history. It was at the lead of every battle fought by Americans. Many people have died protecting it. It even stands proudly on the surface of the moon.
We celebrate Flag Day on June 14 because that was the day in 1777 that the adoption of the American flag by the Second Continental Congress took place. President Woodrow Wilson made a proclamation in 1916 which established June 14 as Flag Day, then was subsequently established by the Congress in 1949. Flag Day is not a federal nor a state holiday with the exception of one state, that being Pennsylvania which began celebrating Flag Day as a state holiday on June 14, 1937. The Flag Day parade in Troy, New York is the largest in the country with an average attendance of 50,000 people. George Morris of Hartford, Connecticut is believed to have been the first to suggest the observance of a “Flag Day” and though the tradition did not continue, Flag Day was observed for the first time in Hartford in 1861.
In 1885 Cigrand J. Bernard, a school teacher in Waubeka, Wisconsin, was the first to formally observe Flag Day in Waubeka at Stony Hill School. From that time on, Cigrand promoted patriotism, and respect for the flag, and the need to observe Flag Day all around the country.
In June 1886 while attending dental school in Chicago, the Chicago Argus newspaper published his first public proposal for the yearly observance of the birth of the United States Flag in an article titled “The Fourteenth of June”. Then in 1888, became the editor-in-chief of American Standard, a magazine founded by a Chicago group known as “Sons of America”, promoting reverence for American emblems by writing articles. His articles were not only published in American Standard, but in several other magazines and newspapers as well. And in 1894, over 300,000 school children in Chicago celebrated Flag Day.
Cigrand went on to become the president of the American Flag Day Association and also the National Flag Day Society, with the support of these organizations, Cigrand was able to deliver more than 2,000 speeches about patriotism and the American flag. He later lived in Batavia, Illinois from 1913 until his death on May 16, 1932. He is known by many as the “Father of Flag Day”.
William Kerr of Collier Township, Pennsylvania, who founded the American Flag Day Association of Western Pennsylvania in 1888 and serving as its own national chairman for fifty years, attended the signing of the Act of Congress in 1949 by Harry Truman, which formally established the observance of Flag Day. George Boch, a kindergarten principal in New York City, celebrated Flag Day in his school in 1889. Elizabeth Duane Gillespie, the president of the Colonial Dames of Pennsylvania, in 1893 attempted a resolution for the establishment of a June 14th Flag Day. These are but a few notable patriots who fought for the national observance of Flag Day.
The president issues a proclamation urging citizens to fly the American flag. Some cities host parades and events in celebration of Flag Day. The National Flag Day Foundation, on the second Sunday of June, holds a flag raising ceremony, a parade, and other events as well.
The last year has been rough on many, but we have the opportunity to celebrate this great country once again. As Americans, we have every right to be proud of our culture, our nation, and our flag. So raise the flag today and every day with pride!
Sidenotes on Flag Day
Properly Display Our Flag
There is a right way and a wrong way to display the flag. The American flag should be held in the highest of regards. It represents our nation and the many people who gave their lives for our country and our flag. Here are the basics on displaying the American flag:
- The flag is normally flown from sunrise to sunset.
- In the morning, raise the flag briskly. At sunset, lower it slowly. Always, raise and lower it ceremoniously.
- The flag should not be flown at night without a light on it.
- The flag should not be flown in the rain or inclement weather.
- After a tragedy or death, the flag is flown at half staff for 30 days. It’s called “half staff” on land ,and “half mast” on a ship.
- When flown vertically on a pole, the stars and blue field , or “union”, is at the top and at the end of the pole (away from your house).
- The American flag is always flown at the top of the pole. Your state flag and other flags fly below it.
- The union is always on top. When displayed in print, the stars and blue field are always on the left.
- Never let your flag touch the ground, never…period.
- Fold your flag when storing. Don’t just stuff it in a drawer or box.
- When your flag is old and has seen better days, it is time to retire it. Old flags should be burned or buried. Please do not throw it in the trash.
Did you Know? There is a very special ceremony for retiring the flag by burning it. It is a ceremony everyone should see.Your local Boy Scout group knows the proper ceremony and performs it on a regular basis. If you have an old flag, give it to them. And, attend the ceremony.
Famous Flag People:
Betsy Ross was a seamstress who made clothes for George Washington. In June, 1776, Washington approached her to make the country’s first flag and the rest is history.
Francis Scott Key Inspired by the British bombardment of Fort McHenry, Francis Scott Key penned the lyrics to our national anthem as he witnessed the event as British rockets whizzed in the air while our American Flag flew in the breeze
Did you Know? If you like to study flags, then you are a Vexillologist!