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Saluting Old Glory: Today is Flag Day

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The Field of Honor effort spearheaded by the Greenville Noon Rotary has placed 3-by-5 foot flags on the Town Common through the July 7.

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The Daily Reflector

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Take time today to salute the stars and stripes — June 14 is National Flag Day in the United States.

The occasion was established by a proclamation by President Woodrow Wilson on May 30, 1916, according to USFlag.org, a website dedicated to the flag’s use and history. While Flag Day was celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson's proclamation, it was not until August 3, 1949, that President Harry S. Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14 of each year as National Flag Day.

The idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the flag is believed to have first originated in 1885, the USFlag website states. A Wisconsin teacher named Bernard J. Cigrand arranged for his pupils to observe June 14 — the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of the stars and stripes — as “Flag Birthday.”

Cigrand, now known as the 'Father of Flag Day,' continued to publically advocate the observance of June 14 as the flag's 'birthday', or 'Flag Day' for years.

On June 14, 1889, a kindergarten teacher in New York City took up the cause, planning flag ceremonies for the children of his school. His idea of observing Flag Day was later adopted by the State Board of Education of New York, the USFlag website said. 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.

The idea spread. On April 25, 1893, the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames of America adopted a resolution requesting the mayor of Philadelphia, all others in authority and all private citizens to display the flag on June 14.

Two weeks later on May 8, the Board of Managers of the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution unanimously endorsed the action of the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames, according to UFFlag.org. As a result of the resolution, the superintendent of public schools of Philadelphia directed that Flag Day exercises be held on June 14, 1893, in Independence Square. 

In 1894, the governor of New York ordered that on June 14 the flag be displayed on all public buildings, the website said. 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.

According to USFlag.org, Franklin K. Lane, Secretary of the Interior, delivered a 1914 Flag Day address in which he repeated words he said the flag had spoken to him that morning: “I am what you make me; nothing more. I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of color, a symbol of yourself.”

Today, Flag Day is celebrated with parades, essay contests, ceremonies, and picnics sponsored by veterans' groups, schools, and groups like the National Flag Day foundation whose goal is to preserve the traditions, history and pride in the nation's symbol, Old Glory.

FLAG FACTS

■ Until the Executive Order of June 24, 1912, neither the order of the stars nor the proportions of the flag was prescribed. Consequently, flags dating before this period sometimes show unusual arrangements of the stars and odd proportions, these features being left to the discretion of the flag maker.

■ On June 14, 1777, in order to establish an official flag for the new nation, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act: "Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation."

■ An act of January 13, 1794, provided for 15 stripes and 15 stars after May 1795.

■ An act of April 4, 1818, provided for 13 stripes and one star for each state, to be added to the flag on the 4th of July following the admission of each new state, signed by President Monroe.

■ An executive order by President Taft dated June 24, 1912, established proportions of the flag and provided for arrangement of the stars in six horizontal rows of eight each, a single point of each star to be upward.

■ An executive order of President Dwight Eisenhower dated Jan. 3, 1959, provided for the arrangement of the stars in seven rows of seven stars each, staggered horizontally and vertically.

■ An executive order of President Dwight Eisenhower dated Aug. 21, 1959, provided for the arrangement of the stars in nine rows of stars staggered horizon tally and eleven rows of stars staggered vertically.

— www.USFlag.org

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