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OP-ED: Honoring Flag Day

Dawn Burleigh,
General Manager/Editor

America’s original flag, it’s the only one that dared defy the straight-line pattern of all its successors. The stars were in a circle while all the rest have had the stars in straight lines.

The flag has had 50 stars for nearly 60 years, the longest without adding a new state. The last state added was Hawaii in August 1959.

Stars can only be added in on July 4 following a state’s admission to the Union.

America’s Flag Day marks the Second Continental Congress’s adoption of the first U.S. national flag on June 14, 1777.  The first flag featured the same 13 red and white stripes we see today.  However, the number and arrangement of stars have changed as the number of states has increased over the centuries, according to https://nationaltoday.com/

However, it is believed that the first annual recognition of the flag’s birthday dates back to 1885 when school teacher, BJ Cigrand, first organized a group of Wisconsin school children to observe June 14 – the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes as the Flag’s 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.

Just a few years later the efforts of another school teacher, George Balch, led to the formal observance of ‘Flag Day’ on June 14 by the New York State Board of Education. Over the following years as many as 36 state and local governments began adopted the annual observance. For over 30 years Flag Day remained a state and local celebration, according to https://www.military.com/flag-day.

President Woodrow Wilson, in 1916, proclaimed the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777 did it became a nationally observed event. It was not actually observed as National Flag Day until August 3, 1949, when an Act of Congress designated June 14 of each year as National Flag Day.

A large part of Americanism and demonstrating the patriotic spirit is properly caring for and displaying the U.S. Flag. Flag etiquette covers everything from proper display of our Flag to acceptable conduct around this symbol of our nation, according to VFW Auxiliary website.

Disposing of a flag respectfully requires a ceremony, according to http://www.vfw.org/.

  1. The flag should be folded in its customary manner.
  2. It is important that the fire be fairly large and of sufficient intensity to ensure complete burning of the flag.
  3. Place the flag on the fire.
  4. The individual(s) can come to attention, salute the flag, recite the Pledge of Allegiance and have a brief period of silent reflection.
  5. After the flag is completely consumed, the fire should then be safely extinguished and the ashes buried.
  6. Please make sure you are conforming to local/state fire codes or ordinances.

It is a moving experience to witness. VFW Post 2775, located at 5303 N 16th Street in Orange, is hosting a Flag Ceremony at 6 p.m. on Monday June 14, Flag Day.

Dawn Burleigh is general manager and editor of The Orange Leader. She can be reached at dawn.burleigh@orangeleader.com