Flag Day is celebrated today, June 14, across the nation. It is a holiday that is often overlooked or one of which people are not aware.
While symbols of freedom that have been recognized and honored over hundreds of years in the United States have recently come under attack by individuals and groups, their history bears sharing and saving.
The history of designating a specific day to honor the nation's flag is believed to have originated in 1885 when B.J. Cigrand, a school teacher in the Wisconsin Public School district, arranged for the students to observe June 14 as the flag's birthday. June 14 marked the anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes.
Cigrand continued to celebrate the day and advocated for others to do so as well. On June 14, 1889, George Balch, a kindergarten teacher in New York City, planned appropriate ceremonies for the children of his school, and his idea of observing Flag Day was later adopted by the State Board of Education of New York. On June 14, 1891, the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia held a Flag Day celebration, and on June 14 of the following year, the New York Society of the Sons of the Revolution, celebrated Flag Day, according to the website www.usflag.org.
With BJ Cigrand and Leroy Van Horn as the moving spirits, the Illinois organization, known as the American Flag Day Association, was organized for the purpose of promoting the holding of Flag Day exercises. On June 14, 1894, under the auspices of this association, the first general public school children's celebration of Flag Day in Chicago was held in Douglas, Garfield, Humboldt, Lincoln and Washington Parks, with more than 300,000 children participating.
Three decades later, after state and local celebrations continued to increase, Flag Day - the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777 - was officially established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson. The proclamation came on May 30, 1916.
This presidential proclamation did not establish the day as a nationally recognized day; however. That recognition did not come until Aug. 3, 1949 when President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14 of each year as National Flag Day.
The following Standards of Respect have been established with regard to the flag. The Flag Code, which formalizes and unifies the traditional ways in which respect is given to the flag also contains specific instructions on how the flag is not to be used.
The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.
The flag should not be used as a drapery, or for covering a speakers desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.
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
The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations.
The flag should never have placed on it, or attached to it, any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind.
The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.
The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary.
When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner. Local American Legion posts can offer appropriate destruction of flags that are no longer usable.
There are appropriate ways to display the U.S. flag.When the flag is displayed from a staff projecting from a window, balcony or a building, the union should be at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half staff.
When it is displayed from the same flagpole with another flag the U.S. flag is at the top.
When flown with flags of states, communities, or societies on separate flag poles which are of the same height and in a straight line, the flag of the United States is always placed in the position of honor - to its own right. The other flags may be smaller but none may be larger. No other flag ever should be placed above it. The flag of the United States is always the first flag raised and the last to be lowered.
There are other protocol to be followed for a variety of uses involving the U.S. flag including saluting, using the flag in mourning and in parades. Regardless of how the flag is used, recognizing the symbolism it holds in the U.S. is the reason for the June 14 designation of Flag Day.