National Flag Day
On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted the flag of United States. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day and in August 1949, an Act of Congress established National Flag Day.
National Flag Day is not an official Federal holiday, although I think it should be. It is left up to the states to observe it or not and to date only Pennsylvania has adopted it as an official state holiday. There are parades and observances by city and towns throughout the United States though. The longest-running Flag Day parade is held annually in Quincy, Massachusetts, which began in 1952.The largest Flag Day parade is held annually in Troy, New York, which 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.
The “Father of Flag Day” is Bernard J. Cigrand (1866-1932). As a 19-year-old, schoolteacher held the first recognized, formal observance of Flag Day at the Stony Hill School in Waubeka, Wisconsin in 1885. In June 1886, he publicly proposed an annual observance of the birth of the United States flag in an article titled “The Fourteenth of June,” published in the Chicago Argus newspaper. In a speech before the Sons of America, he advocated the establishing of the holiday. The organization founded a magazine, American Standard, in order to promote reverence for American emblems. Cigrand was appointed editor-in-chief. Cigrand tirelessly promoted the holiday through his articles in the magazine as well as in other magazines and newspapers.
His efforts began to pay off when on the third Saturday in June 1894, a public school children’s celebration of Flag Day took place in Chicago at Douglas, Garfield, Humboldt, Lincoln, and Washington Parks. More than 300,000 children participated, and the celebration was repeated the next year. Cigrand became president of the American Flag Day Association and later of the National Flag Day Society, which allowed him to promote his cause with organizational backing.
To celebrate Flag Day, of course, one would fly the Flag. Before you do, though may I suggest you read the United States Flag Code, which establishes advisory rules for display and care of the flag of the United States. It is Chapter 1 of Title 4 of the United States Code. I think one would be amazed at not only how many “rules” there are but also how many each of us break.
As a military brat and as a former Girl Scout, I learned as a child how to treat the flag. There are things that I see today and every day that bother me in regards to the use and care of our Flag. Things such as letting the sun set on Old Glory. Yes, that is in the code. One should not let the sun go down with the Flag flying. You can leave it up 24/7 but you really need to illuminate it during nighttime. Another is the Flag should never be displayed lower than any other flag. I see this in the neighborhood where someone is flying the favorite sports team flag and then the United States Flag, almost as if they thought “oh yea, its Flag day put up the Flag” and instead of taking their team flag down just add the US flag under it. Another is using the flag for advertising. Yes advertising. The Code says, “The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed, or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard.”
You can go HERE to read the United States Code. You will find however, that most of the code is nothing more than respect for the symbol of our great country.