On Thursday, June 14, the United States will celebrate Flag Day to commemorate the 241st anniversary of the day the country adopted the stars and stripes as its flag.
While not a federal holiday, on Flag Day, many a parade will take to the streets and multitudes of flags will be raised by patriotic Americans—many, however, likely oblivious of the celebration’s origin.
Flag Day came into existence thanks to the ceaseless efforts of patriotic citizens. Perhaps the most well known is Bernard Cigrand. His father, a Luxembourgian immigrant, instilled a great love for America in his son, who then became a tireless advocate for an official recognition of the flag by the government, according to americanflags.com.
Upon graduating from a dental school, Cigrand convinced The Order of the Sons of America of the benefits of his plan and became the editor-in-chief of the order’s new magazine, The American Standard. The order was led by upper-class Mexican Americans and sought to improve the stature of Mexican-American citizens through assimilation into American culture and through displays of patriotism. It only accepted American citizens as members and opposed large-scale Mexican immigration.
At The American Standard, Cigrand wrote hundreds of articles promoting the idea of a national flag day.
The idea caught on and the first Flag Day was celebrated in 1894, hosted by public schools in several Chicago parks with over 300,000 children in attendance. Over the next few decades, Flag Day gained on official prominence with governors, mayors, and presidents sending delegates and issuing statements in recognition of the celebration.
On June 14, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson declared the day a national holiday.
But it wasn’t until 1949 that Congress passed a resolution designating June 14 as Flag Day, requesting the president to issue a proclamation each year. In a 1966 resolution, Congress also requested that the president proclaim the week of June 14 as National Flag Week.
“I urge all Americans to observe Flag Day and National Flag Week by displaying the flag,” President Donald Trump said in this year’s proclamation. “I also encourage the people of the United States to observe with pride and all due ceremony those days from Flag Day through Independence Day … as a time to honor America, to celebrate our heritage in public gatherings and activities, and to publicly recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.”
Trump was born on Flag Day in 1946.
How to Treat the Flag
There are a number of rules on how to treat the American flag properly that were written into law in 1942:
No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing.
The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of distress in instances of extreme danger.
The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should always be fastened in a way that allows it to fall free.
The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in a way that makes it easily torn, soiled, or damaged.
The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.
Nothing like a mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing should be placed on or attached to the flag.
The flag should never be used to catch, hold, carry, or deliver anything.
The flag should never be used for advertising purposes. It should not be embroidered on things like cushions or handkerchiefs, printed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.
No part of the flag should be used as a costume or athletic uniform. A flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations.
The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.
The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.
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