The American Flag has always stirred strong passions.
Last week, for example, during our 4th of July celebration was no exception for a perfect time toponder our Patriotism, Nationalism, Remembrance,Honor, and Freedom.
Recalling that “the flag of the United States shall be of thirteen stripes of alternate red and white, with a union of thirteen stars of white in a blue field, representing the new constellation’’ is part of our national heritage.
This was the resolution adopted by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. It featured the resolvemade following the report of a special committee which had been assigned to suggest the flag’s design.
Tradition dictates that the first flag of this design was made by the wife of John Ross, better known as Betsy Ross, of Philadelphia.
Although the original design called for six-point stars, when the final product appeared, the stars were five pointed.
It is unclear whether the idea of the five-point stars came from Betsy Ross, who was said to have found this pattern easier to sew, or General George Washington, who preferred the five-point stars as more dignified.
Observance of the adoption of the flag was not soon in coming, however. Although there are many claims to the first official observance of FLAG DAY, all took place more than an entire century after the flag’s adoption in 1777.
But it didn’t start with the military, the congress, the president, the senate or the army veterans or Daughters of the American Revolution.
Teachers and principals, you may stand proud, even if the fact has been eclipsed by other fraternities and organizations claiming to have launched the annual observance.
In 1889, an educator by the name of George Bloch, who operated free kindergarten for the poor of New York City, had his school hold patriotic ceremonies to observe the American Flag, the first official Flag Day of its kind until then.
This attracted the attention of the New York State Department of Education, which quickly seized the opportunity to bolster its image among taxpayers by arranging to have the day observed in all public schools thereafter.
Soon the state legislature got in on the act.
New York legislators passed a law making it the responsibility of the state superintendent of public schools to ensure that schools hold observances for Lincoln’s Birthday, Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, and Flag Day.
In one fell swoop of the pen, the legislators managed to enhance their own reputation as patriots without firing a shot.
And in 1897, the governor of New York ordered the displaying of the flag over all public buildings in the state, an observance considered by some to be the first official recognition of the anniversary of the adoption of the flag outside the school system.
Naturally, though, another claim soon went up the flagpole from Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love.
It appears that the Society of Colonial Dames (I am not making this up) succeeded in getting a resolution passed to have the flag displayed on all the city’s public buildings.
One Elizabeth Duane Gillespie, a direct descendant of Benjamin Franklin’s offspring (once believed to number more than 100 illegitimate children; again, I am not making this up) and the president of the Colonial Dames of Pennsylvania, that same year tried to get the city to call June 14 Flag Day.
Only thing is, resolutions by women in those days were not granted much notice by their male counterparts.
It wasn’t until May 7, 1937, that the City of Brotherly Love (not Sisterly Love) became the first state to establish the June 14 Flag Day as a legal holiday.
And that wasn’t the only frustrated attempt to get something done to commemorate the name day for the American Flag.
Bernard J. Cigrand, a schoolteacher in Waubeka, Wisconsin, reportedly spent years trying to get Congress to declare June 14 as a national holiday.
Although his attempts failed, the day was widely observed.
“Father of Flag Day” honors were given to William T. Kerr, who was credited with founding the American Flag Day Association in 1888 while still a schoolboy in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Both President Wilson, in 1916, and President Coolidge, in 1927, issued proclamations asking for June 14 to be observed as the National Flag Day.
But it wasn’t until August 3, 1949, that Congress approved the national observance, and President Harry Truman signed it into law.
But one thing is certain.
The holiday is here now.
And it’s a good thing, too.
Celebrating America’s freedoms is a way of unifying our strongest feelings for our beloved USA.
We fly “Old Glory” during the month of June in front of our house on the C & O Dam Road in Daniels, and you can usually see hundreds of the red-white-and-bluebanners as you drive along the streets in Beckley and other local communities.
I’ve always said that West Virginians are among the most patriotic people in the country.
And I’m not making that up, either.
Top o’ the morning!