Today is Flag Day – How Much Do You Know About Old Glory?
To me, it's one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen. The site of a large American flag rippling in the breeze against the backdrop of a clear blue sky. Probably the most impressed I have ever been by that site was in Prague in the Czech Republic. As I walked down the street of what used to be a city behind the Iron Curtain, I saw it. Our flag, the flag that represents freedom waiving above the United States Embassy.
I wonder how many people through the years saw that flag and dreamed of living in the freedom that it represents. Our flag is a one-of-a-kind symbol of a one-of-a-kind experiment in government. Yes, our democracy is far from perfect but if you talked to anyone in the Czech Republic, they'd gladly have taken our problems over theirs.
Today is the day that has been set aside to honor our flag. It is Flag day.
When is Flag Day?
You've probably deduced that June 14th is the day that has been set aside as a day to honor the symbol of our nation. It was on June 14th, 1777 that the Second Continental Congress decreed that the flag of the United States " be 13 stripes, alternate red and white, and the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation".
It Took Over 100 Years for Flag Day to Become Official.
It wasn't until 1916 when President Woodrow Wilson marked that decree from 1777 with an official proclamation of his own. President Wilson honored the anniversary of that decree by officially establishing June 14th as Flag Day. Hence the reason we will celebrate this symbol of our nation today.
The First Flag Day was Actually a School Teacher's Idea.
I am not surprised that an educator had something to do with our celebration of Old Glory. Bernard Cigrand was a school teacher in Wisconsin and in 1885 he originated the idea of celebrating the flag on June 14th. It was in that year, 1885, Cigrand led his school in what is believed to be the first organized celebration of the flag.
Combine the Flag with a British Drinking Song and You'll Get Our National Anthem.
That's right the sight of the American Flag flying high above Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor was the inspiration for Francis Scott Key to pen his poem "The Defence of Fort M'Henry". Those words would be later be paired to the tune of "To Anacreon in Heaven" a popular British drinking song. From there, we have our national anthem.
Our Current Flag was Designed by a 17-year-old.
Back in the 1950s, it seemed certain that Alaska was destined to become the 49th state. So flag designers hurriedly went about the business of adding another star to the current 48-star pattern. However, a forward-thinking 17-year-old in Ohio felt that Hawaii would be added as a state in short order as well. So, he retooled his family's American flag with 50 stars. That flag was presented to President Eisenhower who selected the student's design when both Alaska and Hawaii were given statehood.
Proper Display and Respect for the Flag
According to the Flag Code, the Stars and Stripes should not be used for apparel, bedding, or drapery. The flag should only be flown during the daylight hours unless it is illuminated by another light source when there is no daylight. When the flag is not being flown it should never touch the ground. The Flag Code stipulates that the American Flag should "always be kept aloft".
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