By Darryl Alder
Jun 14, 2016

Is Flag Day a Holiday for You?

Egyptian Standards shown by Project Guttenberg

Egyptian Standards as shown by Project Guttenberg

Many folks are surprised that I take Flag Day so seriously, but I do.  At my home, for the last 22 years, I have posted historic flags along with our current flag every day from Flag Day to the 24th of July (see photo above to left).

Any nation’s flag can be a stirring sight as it flies in the wind, representing their country, land, people, government, or that country’s ideals. Flags have been used as a symbol for a long time. The Egyptians carried tribal standards thousands of years ago. People have been carrying or flying flag-like symbols ever since.

In the USA, our Flag Day is celebrated on June 14. The date commemorates the adoption of the flag by the Second Continental Congress on that day in 1777. However, nothing really came of that date for nearly 100 years until an educator, BJ Cigrand, arranged for his pupils to celebrate it as the flag’s “birthday.” The idea caught on quickly with other educators, but it took many years before Flag Day was first officially established by the proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30th, 1916. While Flag Day was celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson’s proclamation, it was not until August 3rd, 1949, that President Truman signed an act of congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.

Patrol American FLagGrowing up, we didn’t have a flag at home, but my Scout patrol had their own. I got to keep it at my house; I loved that little flag. At every campout, I’d toss a line over a tree limb, tie the flag onto the line and hoist it up.

Later in life, serving on camp staff and in the military, I gained a greater love for the flag. But it wasn’t until I was on a junior leader training (now called NYLT) course with Steve Frisby that I became a flag fanatic.

Steve owned a dozen or so historic flags and brought them to the training course. There was a scripted ceremony and song for each of the six days we were on the course. I really wanted those flags and one by one I bought them.

Let me share what we did at those old NYLT ceremonies and see if you don’t want to do them with your Scouts:

Queen Ann

Queen Ann Flag

The British Union flag, sometimes called the Union Jack, was carried by the Jamestown settlers in 1607 and by the pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620.

Today, it is the official flag of the United Kingdom. Its design can be found in the Hawaii flag and several flags of other nations, including New Zealand and Australia.

The Queen Anne Flag moved the British red ensign to the upper left corner and was adopted at the Queen’s request to be the flag for England’s American colonies in 1707. Technically it was our first “national flag.”

To honor this flag, sing “My Country ’tis of Thee:”

My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From ev’ry mountainside
Let freedom ring!


Grand Union FLagThe Continental or Grand Union Flag

While many flags have flown over what is now the United States of America, the first flag to represent all the colonies in separation from England was known as the Continental Colors, also called the Cambridge Flag or the Grand Union Flag. This flag, on which the British flag appeared at the upper left, was the unofficial American flag in 1775 and 1776. On New Year’s Day 1776, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, George Washington chose it to be flown to celebrate the formation of the continental army. Later that year, it became the first American flag to be saluted by another country—the Netherlands

You can honor this flag with a song that also honors America: “America the Beautiful”

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!


Betsey RossThe Flag of 1777 or Betsy Ross Flag

With the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the new American nation needed a flag of its own. On June 14, 1777, Congress passed this resolution:

“Resolved: That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

Each star and each stripe represented one of the colonies that would become the United States. The Flag of 1777 flew over the young nation for 18 years. George Washington was the only president to serve under this banner. To this day, June 14, the birthday of our flag is celebrated each year as Flag Day.

Honor this flag with a song that also honors America: “America the Beautiful”

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!


Star Spangled BannerThe Star-Spangled Banner

By 1795, Vermont and Kentucky had joined the Union, bringing the number of states to 15. The new flag, featuring 15 stars and 15 stripes, flew over the nation for the next 23 years and the administrations of five presidents. It was this flag that flew over Fort McHenry the memorable night of its bombardment by the British in 1814, inspiring Francis Scott Key to write the verses of our national anthem.

The actual flag that flew over Fort McHenry that night is now preserved in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Honor this flag by singing the national anthem: “The Star-Spangled Banner”

O say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thru’ the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there!
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?


Great Star FLag

The 1818 Flag

Realizing that the addition of a new star and new stripe for each new state was impractical, Congress passed the Flag Act of 1818, which returned the flag design to 13 stripes and specified 20 stars for the 20 states. There are several versions of this flag, the one pictured to the right flew for six months over the nation’s capitol.

Flag of 1818This flag became the official United States flag on April 13th, 1818. Five stars were added for the admission of Tennessee (the 16th state on June 1st, 1796), Ohio (the 17th state on March 1st, 1803), Louisiana (the 18th state on April 30th, 1812), Indiana (the 19th state on December 11th, 1816), and Mississippi (the 20th state on December 10, 1817), and was to last for just one year. The only president to serve under this flag was James Monroe (1817-1825).

You can honor this flag by singing: You’re A Grand Old Flag (Not sure you know it? Listen to this recording from Golden Records.)

You’re a grand old flag,
You’re a high flying flag
And forever in peace may you wave.
You’re the emblem of
The land I love.
The home of the free and the brave.
Ev’ry heart beats true
‘neath the Red, White and Blue,
Where there’s never a boast or brag.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eye on the grand old flag.


The 48 Star Flag

48 star flagOn July 4,1912, the U.S. flag grew to 48 stars with the addition of New Mexico (January 6th, 1912) and Arizona (February 14, 1912) An executive order of President Taft dated June 24, 1912 established the proportions of the flag and provided for arrangement of the stars in six horizontal rows of eight each, a single point of each star to be upward.

This flag was official for 47 years, longer than any other flag, through two world wars and the emergence of the United States of America as the leading nation of the world. Eight presidents served under this flag; William H. Taft (1909-1913), Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921), Warren Harding (1921-1923), Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929), Herbert Hoover (1929-1933), Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945), Harry S.Truman (1945-1953), and Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961).

You can honor this flag by singing “God Bless America,” the great song of World War II:

God bless America,
Land that I love,
Stand beside her and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above;

From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans white with foam,
God bless America,
My home, sweet home.
God bless America,
My home, sweet home.


IMG_0650As I said, the daily posting of flags and singing patriotic songs at NYLT led me to want my own set, some of which you can see in the top image. But we just moved into a new home last month, so now I have to figure out to to display my collection in all new ways.

This was my first try. How did I do?

Darryl-Thumbnail-150x150
Author: Darryl Alder | Strategic Initiatives Director, Utah National Parks Council

Nearly 200 Scouts helped to raise a 35X50 ft American Flag on a new 115 ft flag pole in a new park in the middle of the American Fork cemetery today. It was awesome.

Nearly 200 Scouts helped to raise a 35X50 ft American Flag on a new 115 ft flag pole in a new park in the middle of the American Fork cemetery today. It was awesome.

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One thought on “Is Flag Day a Holiday for You?

  1. John PetersonJohn Peterson

    Nearly 200 Scouts helped to raise a 35X50 ft American Flag on a new 115 ft flag pole in a new park in the middle of the American Fork cemetery today. It was awesome.

    Reply

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