The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

June 7, 2013

Flag Day more than special day

— To the editor:

So proudly She waves…

Come June 14 various individuals will celebrate another birthday. For them, it’s a special day. Besides special birthdays, June 14 is designated Flag Day.

It is interesting to note that the history of Flag Day can be tied to school teachers. It is believed that the first Flag Day was in 1885 when B.J. Cigrand had his students in Fredonia, Wis., observe the 108th anniversary of The Stars and Stripes. Four years later, George Balch, a kindergarten teacher in New York City, planned appropriate flag ceremonies for the children of his school. This resulted in the State Board of Education in New York adopting special observances thereafter.

The flag day movement built up steam across several states until President Woodrow Wilson on May 30, 1916, officially established Flag Day. But get this, it was not until Aug. 3, 1949, when President Truman signed an Act of Congress that we had a National Flag Day.  

So, National Flag Day is a relatively young observance on our calendar.  Still, from 1777 to 2013 — Stars and Stripes Forever....

The history of how to display the flag dates back to right after the attack on Pearl Harbor. However, all of our national organizations, including the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy, joined forces to create the United States Flag Code; this they did on June 14, 1923. It was not until June 22, 1942, that Congress passed a joint resolution which was amended on Dec. 22, 1942 (a few days after the attack), to become public law.

Bottom line of this code, “No disrespect should be shown to the Flag of the United States of America.” It is a living symbol representing a living country.

Knowing and following the rules of proper conduct show respect, honor, and loyalty, not only for the flag but also to our country and for the men and women who have served and died for our nation — and for those who are currently serving and dying for our freedoms.

It is more than a piece of cloth. “It represents each of us, our past, present, and future. Great sacrifices and national pride are stitched into its stars and stripes, and it stands as a symbol of hope, opportunity, and freedom. It is not an inanimate object. It flies freely with a life force powerful enough to unite an entire nation.”

The United States Flag Code covers everything — how to display and more. This piece will mainly cover display hours. Here is what is said:  For a stationary flag displayed on a building, pole or staff, it is customary to fly it from sunrise to sunset.

Display at night is only permitted if it is properly illuminated. This means that a light must be dedicated to “spotlighting” the flag. A street light or well-lit area will not provide enough light. With the right lighting, the flag can fly 24 hours a day for as many days as desired.

It is strongly suggested but not required, according to the Flag Code, to fly our flag at the following locations. The American flag should be flown near polling places on election days ,since the vote is one of our essential American rights.

Old Glory should be flown near the main building of all public institutions, especially those conducting government business, and on or near every schoolhouse during school days because the proper display instills patriotism.

Every person has the right to own and to display the American flag.  But it’s important to do so with respect. While many are displaying her with good intentions, they are not following the Flag Code.

 It is time we as American citizens re-educate ourselves to the highest of standards in this regard. We should all be thankful that we still have this opportunity and that we still have a country, the land of the free and the brave.

“The things that the flag stands for were created by the experiences of a great people. Everything that it stands for was written by their lives.  The flag is the embodiment, not of sentiment, but of history.”

— President Woodrow Wilson, June 14, 1915, Flag Day (Internet Research)

Sarah Roach Swindell