Good morning my friends. I don’t know what today holds for me so I’m hitting you with this early in the day. Well, late in the day for me but that’s beside the point. This is in answer to a special request made by someone here. I actually don’t know a lot of the history behind what today is but as it happens, it’s Flag Day. It happens every year of course and it’s also the traditional birthday of the United States Army. Below is text I directly copied from THIS website describing the history of the day.
The Fourth of July was traditionally celebrated as America’s birthday, but the idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the Flag is believed to have first originated in 1885. BJ Cigrand, a schoolteacher, arranged for the pupils in the Fredonia, Wisconsin Public School, District 6, to observe June 14 (the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes) as ‘Flag Birthday’. In numerous magazines and newspaper articles and public addresses over the following years, Cigrand continued to enthusiastically advocate the observance of June 14 as ‘Flag Birthday’, or ‘Flag Day’.
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.
Following the suggestion of Colonel J Granville Leach (at the time historian of the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolution), the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames of America on April 25, 1893 adopted a resolution requesting the mayor of Philadelphia and all others in authority and all private citizens to display the Flag on June 14th. Leach went on to recommend that thereafter the day be known as ‘Flag Day’, and on that day, school children be assembled for appropriate exercises, with each child being given a small Flag.
Two weeks later on May 8th, the Board of Managers of the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution unanimously endorsed the action of the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames. As a result of the resolution, Dr. Edward Brooks, then Superintendent of Public Schools of Philadelphia, directed that Flag Day exercises be held on June 14, 1893 in Independence Square. School children were assembled, each carrying a small Flag, and patriotic songs were sung and addresses delivered.
In 1894, the governor of New York directed that on June 14 the Flag be displayed on all public buildings. 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 14th, 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.
Adults, too, participated in patriotic programs. 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.”
Inspired by these three decades of state and local celebrations, Flag Day – the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777 – was officially established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30th, 1916. While Flag Day was celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson’s proclamation, it was not until August 3rd, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.
I don’t show this very often. Some might say I should be ashamed of flying such a dirty flag. It’s cheap, worn, and I’ve had to hunt it down more times than I care to count. It is one of those flags that you might see people driving down the street with the flag attached to a car window. It rests on my mailbox as it has since September 11, 2001. Before then, I never really thought to fly the flag on the front of my house or anywhere else for that matter. I’ve always been proud of my country and had a soft spot in my heart for her symbol, the Stars and Stripes or Old Glory. It enrages me when I see someone disrespect it and they damn well better never do it in front of me.
You see, before 9.11.2001, I never really experienced our nation being at war. The first Gulf war was real to every participant but for most of us here at home, it was a happening far off in some other place. We have a volunteer military and like most of the rest of us, I was able to watch the first Gulf war on TV. Anybody remember Stormin’ Norman? To me, seeing it was little more than watching a video game on the boob box. On 911 however, a realization hit us all right square in the teeth. As a nation, we were no longer protected by being several thousand miles from a threat. The threat was right here, in our country, and the target of that threat had nothing to do with the military of this country. They specifically targeted citizens of the USA when no one was looking. We all stood up and waived our flags for a couple months and then we put them away again. Well, many of us did anyway. The flag I show above has been through weather hell. It has been blown off of the mailbox when careless postal carriers don’t close the mailbox on a windy day. It has blown down the street in high winds. It has been buried in the snow. It has been generally abused by the elements. This is the only thing that will make me walk through a foot and a half of fresh fallen snow to dig it out. I don’t even own a pair of boots. Get the picture?
The flag symbolizes a lot of things to a lot of people. For some it’s a decoration on national holidays to be put away until the next holiday comes along. That is completely proper according to flag etiquette, nothing wrong with it. For some, it is a remembrance of a fallen family member who gave his or her life for the country it symbolizes. For some, it is an instrument to be used in protest. Display it upside down, it is a symbol of distress. It means a lot of things to a lot of people. To some, it represents a goal. A goal to become a naturalized US Citizen. If you want to feel some real national pride, talk to one of those people. The people who came from what we don’t have to put up with. Those who have lived under other banners of nationalism.
This is one of the first flag photos I ever took. It is a very large flag that flies outside of a local car wash establishment. It was taken at 1am on a night in February 2005. The purpose of the photo was to see if I could capture it with my fancy new made in the Philippines camera.
To me, this flag symbolizes freedom to say and do as I please. It symbolizes over 236 years of trying to get it right. We stumble along the way at times but we always pick ourselves up and carry on, under the same banner, the flag of The United States. To me it symbolizes every single father, mother, widow, widower who has been handed a carefully folded US flag as a thank you condolence for their lost loved one. EVERY time I see the flag, I think of these people. Yes it even symbolizes bravado pride for me. I’m proud to see it everywhere I go.
The proper way to dispose of a flag is to burn it. That is the ONLY time it’s proper to set fire to Old Glory, in spite of what the SCOTUS says, IMO. The proper time to do so is when it is worn, tattered or even just dirty beyond recognition. Should I burn my little mailbox flag? Hell no! It will stay there until every single United States soldier is home and accounted for. That’s what that flag means to me and it is why I go out of my way to rescue my little flag, when it is in distress. The only real sad part about my little mailbox flag is that it was probably made in China.
I have a lot more to say on the subject but every bit of it is likely to cause trouble so I will exercise another freedom that flag symbolizes. That is to keep quiet. I’m not sure if this is what my requester was hoping for but it’s the best that I have for now.
So, what does the flag mean to you?
Til next time,