Thursday, June 14, 2007

Did you remember Flag Day?

Happy Flag Day everyone! Um, you DID know that it was Flag Day, right?

I don’t mean to sound overly patriotic or to take any specific political stand. It’s just that, had I not heard it mentioned on the morning news, I would not have known that today is Flag Day either. After all, it’s not a holiday that involves a day off of work, nor is it really a holiday that inspires fond memories of Flag Days past. Do you remember what you were doing on Flag Day ten years ago? Five Years ago? Last year?

Actually, I do have one memory of a Flag Day spent in Baltimore on a business trip back in the late 1980’s. As I searched for a place to eat along the Inner Harbor, I noticed all the restaurants were jammed packed. When I asked a local what was going on, he said, "why, it’s Flag Day of course." It turns out that Baltimore has a big celebration every year with bands, parties and fireworks since this is the site where the Star Spangled Banner was written (Fort McHenry and all that).

Anyhow, my point is that Flag Day seems to be a largely ignored holiday. Thanks to the reminder on television, I hoisted my flag this morning as I headed off to work this morning. However, I didn’t notice one other flag during my 17-mile commute. This is in sharp contract to the days and weeks following 9/11. I remember counting well over 50 flags during my morning commute. It was a tough time for us all and I think many of us found solace in the newfound patriotism and proudly flew the flag. And although you’ll see quite a few flying on July 4, it’s a shame that we can’t remember to fly the flag on other days, such as Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, Armed Forces Day, and of course, Flag Day. And again, I’m as guilty as anyone else. But I am proud to say I do own a flag, and I hope most folks out there own one as well...whether it be a small mail-box sized flag or a larger one to hang off a pole. I think it’s important to have one in every household.

So in celebration of this day, I thought I’d post few flag and Flag Day facts you might find interesting. There’s plenty of websites out there with additional information, just google it and you’ll find it.

  • Despite an official resolution regarding the flag being issued in 1777, it wasn’t until 1912 that the order of the stars and proportions of the flag were officially prescribed by executive order.
  • There has never been specific meaning assigned to the colors of the flag itself. However, the official Seal of the United States contains the same colors and are designated as such: "White signifies purity and innocence. Red signifies hardiness and valor. Blue signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice"
  • A flag is flown upside down to serve as a distress signal.
  • When flying a flag at half-mast, it should be raised to its peak, and then lowered to the halfway point. When taken down, it should again be raised to its summit before lowering.
  • The flag should be flown at half-mast on Memorial Day from sunrise until noon. At noon, the flag should be raised and flown at full-mast until sundown.
  • A flag historian is called a vexillologist
  • The blue field with the stars is called the "union."
  • Until 1818, an additional stripe as well as a star was added to the flag for each new state. After 1818, the flag has returned to and remained at 13 stripes.
  • A five-pointed star was rarely used in any symbolism prior to its use in the American Flag. Most stars had previously been presented with six points.
  • The are 19 different holidays that are designated as days in which the flag should be flown. I won’t list them all here, but the list includes Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Happy Flag Day!

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