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What Flag Day means to us

Mickey Starling:

Greene Publishing, Inc.

June 14 is a special day we set aside to honor the official recognition of our flag, as stated by a congressional resolution, signed on June 14, 1777. The statement read, "Resolved, that the Flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation."

This official recognition was the first step on a long road to establishing Flag Day. Throughout the 1800s, numerous people made efforts to create a nationally recognized celebration of our flag. One of the first attempts at a national celebration came from George Morris, in 1861. He managed to get his town, Hartford, Conn., to "undertake a patriotic celebration on behalf of the Union." However, the idea never became popular.

A zealous teacher, named Bernard Cigrand, had the students in his Wisconsin classroom write essays about what the flag meant to them. This assignment took place in 1885, after he placed a 10-inch, 38-star flag in an inkwell in his room. Cigrand went on to champion the cause of the flag for decades to come.

Our actual Flag Day celebration began to take shape around 1889, when William Kerr was instrumental in establishing the National American Flag Day Association. Kerr met with several US presidents over the course of time, attempting to get their support for the recognition of Flag Day. These conversations paid off after he spoke with President Woodrow Wilson, who issued a Flag Day proclamation on May 30, 1916. "I therefore suggest and request that throughout the nation and, if possible, in every community the fourteenth day of June be observed as Flag Day with special patriotic exercises," said Wilson. President Harry Truman later made the observance permanent in 1949.

Flag Day is not a federal holiday, but it is a state holiday in New York and Pennsylvania.

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