The birthday of the United States of America is Independence Day or Fourth of July. The process for a special day of recognition for our flag began in 1885 from the effort of a young school teacher in Wisconsin who assigned his students to write essays on the flag and its significance. Even though Bernard J. Cigrand is recognized as the person who started the process, he was assisted by other people. George Balch, a kindergarten teacher in New York City, planned appropriate ceremonies for the children at his school in 1889. His idea to observe Flag Day was later adopted by the New York State Board of Education. The Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia celebrated Flag Day in 1891, and the New York Society of the Sons of the Revolution celebrated Flag Day the following year. All these celebrations took place on June 14.
The National Flag Day Foundation established their mission “to carry on the tradition of the first flag day observance. 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 Congress’s 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 fifty when President Wilson, on May 30, 1916, issued a proclamation calling for a nationwide 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, Wauneka, Wisconsin.
“The National Flag Day Foundation joins forces with community groups and individuals that love our flag and want to keep its traditions alive. “Our goal is to teach Americanism, using Flag history, enlisting 4-H groups, VFW, Scouts and other patriots to teach the lessons of our great flag.
“The National Flag Day Foundation initiates fund raising efforts to support Bernard J. Cigrand’s dream to fittingly commemorate the birthday of the American Flag and to carry the message of our Flag to the future leaders of our great country – our youth. We hope you will join us in our mission.”
The American flag represents our independence as well as our unity as a nation because we are “one nation, under God, indivisible.” We should always show respect for our flag and what it represents. We should remember that our flag has flown proudly in every battle fought by Americans and many people gave their lives protecting it. In battles of every kind – from Tripoli to the World Trade Center – Americans have raised the flag to show our presence, unity and strength. Our flag even stands on the moon to show that Americans conquered space.
Francis Scott Key expressed his feelings about the flag in our National Anthem “The Star Spangled Banner.” After shells were shot at Fort McHenry all night long, he rejoiced when he saw the flag still flying.
Oh say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thru the night that our flag was still there.
Oh say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
On the shore, dimly seen thru the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream;
Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh, long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Oh, thus be it ever, when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heaven’s-rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust!”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
May we all appreciate the opportunity to fly our glorious flag and give appropriate honor to it. May we remember that it represents our independence and unity as Americans. We should fly our flag every day but especially on Flag Day. As Americans we have the right to be proud of our nation and its ensign. As we fly our flags we should make sure that we display it appropriately as there is a right way and a wrong way to display the flag. Flag Etiquette is explained as follows:
· The flag is usually flown from sunrise to sunset. Raise it briskly in the morning; lower it slowly at sunset, ceremoniously.
· Never fly your flag at night without a light on it.
· Following a tragedy or death, the flag is flown at “half-staff” for 30 days.
· When flown vertically on a pole, make sure the stars and field of blue is at the top end of the pole.
· When flown with other flags, the American flag is always at the top of the pole with state and other flags below it.
· Never let the flag touch the ground.
· When your flag is not in use, fold it appropriately before storing it.
· When your flag is old and/or tattered, retire it by burning or burying it, not by throwing it in the trash. Boy Scouts know the proper ceremony for retiring the flag and can help you dispose of yours appropriately.