Flag Day: Behind the Stars and Stripes
by Sherrie Norris
"Our chapter will be joining with others across the nation -- and with many Americans -- as we celebrate our national flag and, most importantly, the freedoms it represents," Moretz said. "We would like for everyone to fly the flag on Flag Day, as well as other appropriate days. We want to help educate and remind our community about our flag, such as the expected conduct and respect for the flag and more.
"The DAR will host a brief program about Flag Day at 12:30 p.m. on Monday, June 9, at the Watauga County Public Library in Boone, presented by Megan Phillips.The group is also hosting an informative display at the library during June.
Stars and Stripes
The Stars and Stripes, as the flag was first known, was designed on June 14, 1777, with 13 stripes representing the 13 United States at the time, in alternating colors of red and white, and 13 white stars in a blue field representing a new constellation. Flag Day is recognized as a result of the efforts of Wisconsin teacher, Bernard John CiGrand, who, in 1885 in his one-room school, placed a 10-inch, 38-star flag in an inkwell and had his students write essays on what the flag meant to them. From that day on, CiGrand dedicated himself to inspire not only his students, but also all Americans, in the real meaning and splendor of the flag.
Flag Day was officially proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 to be celebrated on the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777. President Harry S. Truman signed an Act of Congress on Aug. 3, 1949, establishing June 14 as Flag Day in the U.S.The DAR promotes and encourages a strong patriotic feeling and respect for the American flag, Moretz said. In keeping with the "flag code" adopted by the U.S. Congress, the principal objectives are to: keep the flag flying, protect the flag under all conditions, ensure its correct use and display, and to educate children and adults about the authorized rules of the flag code, Moretz said.The DAR publishes a leaflet about the U.S. Flag Code that is distributed to institutions, businesses and individuals. With other materials, it is helpful to students in studying the history and importance of the U.S. flag, Moretz said.
DAR members across the country present American flags to new citizens at naturalization ceremonies, schools, youth organizations, historical sites, museums, veterans' homes and hospitals. Braille flags are also given to schools and institutions for the blind.
"A member of our chapter recently gave enough flags to Parkway School so that each classroom would have a flag," Moretz said. "We plan on continuing to give flags until we are sure that each classroom in Watauga County has a flag."The DAR is a nonprofit, nonpolitical volunteer women's service organization; its members are dedicated to promoting historic preservation, education and patriotism in communities across the nation.Educators, parents and students are encouraged to contact their local DAR chapters for more information or visit http://www.dar.org.
The following might dispel common myths regarding the American flag:
- On Flag Day, June 14, 1923, the American Legion and representatives of 68 other patriotic, fraternal, civic and military organizations met in Washington, D.C., for the purpose of drafting a code of flag etiquette. The 77th Congress adopted this codification of rules as public law on June 22, 1942 (Title 4, United States Code Chapter 1).
- A flag that has been used to cover a casket can be used for any proper display purpose, to include displaying it from a staff or flagpole.
- According to the U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry, the U.S. flag never becomes obsolete. Any officially approved American flag, irrespective of the number or arrangement of the stars and/or stripes, may continue to be used and displayed until no longer serviceable.
- The flag code is simply a guideline for proper flag etiquette. The law does not provide penalties for violation of any of its provisions.
- As long as the flag remains suitable for display, the flag may continue to be displayed as a symbol of the country.
- There are no provisions of the flag code which prohibit the washing or dry-cleaning of the flag. The decision to wash or dry-clean depends upon the type of material.
- It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.
- Placing the flag at half-staff means that the nation or the state mourns the death of a highly regarded national or state figure, hence only the president of the U.S. or the governor of the state may order the flag to be half-staffed. Those individuals and agencies that usurp authority and display the flag at half-staff on inappropriate occasions are quickly eroding the honor and reverence accorded this solemn act.
- The flag, when it is in such a condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning. Since 1937, the American Legion has promoted the use of a public flag disposal ceremony. This ceremony is a fitting tribute and an overt expression of patriotism, which enhances the public's understanding of honor and respect due the American flag.
- Fringing of the flag is neither approved of nor prohibited by the flag code. The American Legion considers that fringe is used as an honorable enrichment to the Flag.
Source: The American Legion, National Flag Day Foundation