by Howard Lestrud
ECM Online Managing Editor
One of the most direct ways to show one’s patriotism is to fly the American flag. The American flag can be flown 24/7 under certain conditions but on Tuesday, June 14, a special day is set aside as Flag Day.
In this Clicking on the Web, I plan to trace the history of Flag Day and also plan to share with you, the reader, some facts and statistics about the American flag.
Let’s examine some history about Flag Day and the easiest way to find history on this special day is by going to Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_Day_%28United_States%29
Flag Day commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened that day by resolution of the Second Continental Congress in 1777.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day; in August 1949, National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress.
Flag Day is not an official federal holiday, though on June 14, 1937, Pennsylvania became the first (and only) U.S. state to celebrate Flag Day as a state holiday, beginning in the town of Rennerdale. Title 36 of the United States Code, Subtitle I, Part A, CHAPTER 1, § 110 is the official statute on Flag Day; however, it is at the President’s discretion to proclaim officially the observance.
One of the longest-running Flag Day parades is held annually in Quincy, Massachusetts, which began in 1952, celebrating its 59th year in 2010. The 59th Annual Appleton Wisconsin 2009 Flag Day Parade featured the U.S. Navy. The largest Flag Day parade is held annually in Troy, New York, which bases its parade on the Quincy parade and typically draws 50,000 spectators.
Perhaps the oldest continuing Flag Day parade is at Fairfield, Washington. Beginning in 1909 or 1910, Fairfield has held a parade every year since, with the possible exception of 1918, and celebrated the “Centennial” parade in 2010, along with some other commemorative events.
The week of June 14 is designated as “National Flag Week.” During National Flag Week, the president will issue a proclamation urging U.S. citizens to fly the American flag for the duration of that week. The flag should also be displayed on all government buildings.
Some organizations hold parades and events in celebration of America’s national flag and everything it represents. Other organizations and tribal groups hold counter-celebrations and protests.
The National Flag Day Foundation holds an annual observance for Flag Day on the second Sunday in June. The program includes a ceremonial raising of the flag, recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, singing of the National Anthem (The Star-spangled Banner), a parade and more.
Waubeka, Wisconsin is said to be the birthplace of Flag Day. Go to the National Flag Day Foundation’s website at http://www.nationalflagday.com/default.asp and learn more about the history of Flag Day.
On June 14th, 1885, Bernard J. Cigrand, a 19-year-old teacher at Stony Hill School, placed a 10 inch, 38- star flag in a bottle on his desk then assigned essays on the flag and its significance. This observance, commemorated Congresses adoption of the Stars and Stripes as the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777. This observance was also the beginning of Cigrand’s long years of fervent and devoted effort to bring about national recognition and observance of Flag Day.
The crowning achievement of his life came at age 50 when President Wilson, on May 30, 1916, issued a proclamation calling for a nation wide observance of Flag Day. Then in 1949, President Truman signed an Act Of Congress designating the 14th day of June every year as National Flag Day. On June 14th, 2004, the 108th U.S. Congress voted unanimously on H.R. 662 that Flag Day originated in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin.
• When was the American flag created? On June 14, 1777, in order to establish an official flag for the new nation, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act: “Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”
• Who designed the American flag? Between 1777 and 1960, Congress passed several acts that changed the shape, design and arrangement of the flag and allowed for additional stars and stripes to be added to reflect the admission of each new state. Today the flag consists of thirteen horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with 6 white. The stripes represent the original 13 colonies, the stars represent the 50 states of the Union. The colors of the flag are symbolic as well: Red symbolizes Hardiness and Valor, White symbolizes Purity and Innocence and Blue represents Vigilance, Perseverance and Justice.
• What guidelines/laws must we follow in displaying the American flag? Federal law stipulates many aspects of flag etiquette. The section of law dealing with American Flag etiquette is generally referred to as the Flag Code. The flag should be lighted at all times, either by sunlight or by an appropriate light source. The flag should be flown in fair weather, unless the flag is designed for inclement weather use. To find out more about flag etiquette, go to http://www.usa-flag-site.org/etiquette.shtml
• What is the link between Betsy Ross and the American flag? Betsy Ross is said to have sewn the first American flag but this fact is widely debated. Find out more history on Betsy Ross by going to Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betsy_Ross_flag
Wikipedia says the flag of the United States is one of the nation’s most widely recognized symbols. Within the U.S. it is frequently displayed, not only on public buildings, but on private residences. It is also used as a motif on decals for car windows, and clothing ornaments such as badges and lapel pins. Throughout the world it is used in public discourse to refer to the U.S., not only as a nation, state, government, and set of policies, but also as a set of ideals.
The flag has become a powerful symbol of Americanism, and is proudly flown on many occasions, with giant outdoor flags used by retail outlets to draw customers. Desecration of the flag is considered a public outrage, but is protected as a form of free speech.
The American flag is also flown at half-staff as a sign of respect or mourning. Nationwide, this action is proclaimed by the president; state-wide or territory-wide, the proclamation is made by the governor. In addition, there is no prohibition against municipal governments, private businesses or citizens flying the flag at half-staff as a local sign of respect and mourning.