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.
This past weekend we celebrated Old Glory’s 238th birthday, of waving over the land of the free and the home of the brave. What’s Flag Day? It’s the American celebration of the birthday of the stars and stripes, our flag.
On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed a resolution “that the flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes of alternate red and white with a union of thirteen stars of white on a blue field, representing the new constellation.”
“Nowhere on earth do citizens fly their national flags, as Americans do, everywhere they live and everywhere they go, from our front porches to our pickup trucks,” writes journalist and historian Marc Leepson in his book “Flag: An American Biography.”
Flag Day’s original beginning was unknown for decades. It had many competing people, cities and states claiming to be the first to celebrate its establishment.
Here is what we do know about Flag Day’s birth. The National Flag Day Foundation cites Bernard J. Cigrand, a young schoolteacher from Waubeka, Wisconsin who in 1885 assigned his students to write an essay about what the flag meant to them. Later in life he spent years trying to get Congress to declare Flag Day a national holiday.
Then William T. Kerr, a Pittsburg, Pennsylvania schoolboy also claimed in 1885 he founded the American Flag Day Association, according to the Veterans Administration.
Presidents Wilson and Coolidge both issued proclamations that June 14 be observed as Flag Day. However, it wasn’t until 1949 that Congress passed legislation to that effect and President Truman signed it into law. It took until June 14, 2004, for the 108th U.S. Congress to vote unanimously on H.R. 662 that Flag Day originated in Ozaukee County, Waubeka Wisconsin.
So, now we have an official date but Flag Day isn’t a federal holiday. Federal workers don’t get a paid day off and schools don’t close nor is your mail discontinued for that day. It’s more in line with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day being a recognized day of observance.
Why isn’t it a federal holiday? The truth is simple, it didn’t make the cut. It wasn’t part of the 1968 Uniform Holiday Act. That’s the law that sets the framework for the eleven official federal holidays and multiple three-day weekends that fire-up a million grills and launch car and mattress retail sales into another dimension.
What really matters is that we take the time on Flag Day, to remember what our flag stands for and all Americans to celebrate and show respect for our flag, its designers and makers. Our flag is representative of our independence and our unity as a nation. It was at the lead of every battle fought by Americans throughout our history. Many people have died protecting it and uniquely it stands on the surface of the moon.
As Americans we should be proud of our nation and our legacy and our flag. Flag Day holiday doesn’t have any standard customs or restrictions to follow…unless you count the one where you proudly hold Old Glory high over your head in memory of how we arrived here and wave her one more time over the home of the brave and the land of the free.