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Flag DayHistory

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Flag Day

By: Allison Ebner
We all know the who, what, when, where, why, and how's of Independence Day, but what about Flag Day?
Here's a quick history quiz to put it in perspective:

When is Flag Day?
A) June 4
B) June14
C) The first Tuesday in June
D) July 4

If you chose B, congratulations! You are either up on your understated holidays or you've got Lady Luck on your side.

Flag Day is, in fact, June 14. Know why? Don't worry, we're done with quizzes! June 14 commemorates the day in 1777 when Congress adopted Old Glory as the flag of the United States. However, the holiday wasn't immediately recognized.

It wasn't until 1885 when 19-year-old schoolteacher BJ Cigrand put a flag in a bottle on his desk in a Wisconsin public school and had his students write essays about the flag in observance of its adoption that anyone had celebrated Old Glory's birthday. This was actually the flag's 108th birthday! During the following years, Cigrand continued to advocate the observance of the day.

Cigrand's support wasn't solo for long. Four years later, June 14, 1889, a New York City kindergarten teacher by the name of George Balch had the children of his school observe Flag Day with appropriate ceremonies. His techniques for observance were later adopted by the State Board of Education of New York.

Things moved quickly after that. Two years later, in 1891, the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia held a similar celebration and the next year, the New York Society of the Songs of the Revolution were celebrating Flag Day, as well.

The official name of "Flag Day" came the year after that in 1893 from then-historian of the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolution Colonel J Granville Leach. It was also his suggestion to have the mayor of Philadelphia and fellow authority figures and citizens display the flag on June 14th in commemoration and celebration. This included school children assembling for appropriate exercises, including receiving a small version of Old Glory.

The suggestions which officially came from the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames were unanimously endorsed that year by the Board of Managers of the Pennsylvania Society of Sons. The result was the schools of Philadelphia gathering in Independence Square on June 14, 1893 with their flags and patriotic tunes to celebrate Flag Day.

In 1894, the New York governor ordered that the American Flag be displayed on all public buildings on June 14. That same year, under the enthusiasm and movement of BJ Cigrand and Leroy Van Horn, the leading figures of the American Flag Day Association, Chicago also held its first general public school observance of Flag Day with over 300,000 children participating.

Adults also participated in the celebrations. However, it wasn't until May 30, 1916, after three decades of state and local observances, that President Woodrow Wilson established Flag Day as official by means of a Proclamation.

This certainly encouraged the celebration and observance of Flag Day, but it wasn't until August 3, 1949, when President Truman signed an Act of Congress that June 14 of every year was designated as National Flag Day. In honor of the man who truly started it all, BJ Cigrand, the 108th U.S. Congress voted unanimously that Flag Day originated in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin on June 14, 2004.

Since 1949, the President yearly proclaims the celebration and encourages all Americans to display the famous Stars and Stripes outside their homes and businesses. However, as stipulated by the United States Flag Code, there is a fine art to displaying the American Flag.

In order to properly celebrate the holiday, here are a few things you should know: the flag should be raised briskly and lowered ceremoniously; the flag should never touch the ground or the floor; unless it is an all-weather flag, it should never be flown in bad weather; the flag should only be flown from sunrise to sunset unless it can be properly illuminated. Don't use the flag to carry, cover or store anything; never fly the flag upside down unless to signal an emergency; no writing should ever be put on the flag and the flag must always be allowed to fly free.

So, June 14 may not be a federal holiday, but it stands for the same values as Independence Day. Flag Day stands for the same pride and glory of those more famous days of America in the 18th century. So raise your flags high, proud and properly and celebrate Old Glory!

Laugh a Little

What did one flag say to the other flag?
Nothing. It just waved!

The Fourth of July weekend was approaching, and Miss Pelham, the nursery school teacher, took the opportunity to tell her class about patriotism. 'We live in a great country,' she announced. 'One of the things we should be happy is that, in this country, we are all free.'

Trevor, who was a little boy in her class, came walking up to her from the back of the room. He stood with his hands on his hips and said loudly, 'I'm not free. I'm four.'
What did King George think of the American colonists?
He thought they were revolting!
Teacher: Where was the Declaration of Independence signed?
Student: On the bottom!
Teacher: "Which son of old Virginia wrote the Declaration of Independence?"
Student: "I think it was Thomas Jeffer's son."
Q: What’s the difference between a duck and George Washington?
A: One has a bill on his face, and the other has his face on a bill

Flag Day Trivia

In 1923 the National Flag Conference called for the words 'My Flag' to be changed to the Flag of the United States. The reason given was to ensure that immigrants knew to which flag reference was being made. The words "of America" were added in 1924. The United States' Congress officially recognized the Pledge as the official national pledge on December 28, 1945.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson officially proclaimed this day as Flag Day.

In 1949, the United State's Congress made it even more official by proclaiming today National Flag Day.

The Pledge of allegiance was written for the children's magazine Youth's Companion by Christian Socialist author and Baptist minister Francis Bellamy on September 7, 1892.

In New York City on April 22, 1951, the Board of Directors of the Knights of Columbus adopted a resolution to amend their recitation of Pledge of Allegiance at the opening of each of the meetings of the 800 Fourth Degree Assemblies of the Knights of Columbus by addition of the words "under God" after the words "one nation."

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Francis Bellamy's Original Pledge:
I Pledge allegiance to my Flag, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for all.


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