On June 14, we honor Old Glory on National Flag Day. This day commemorates the adoption of the United States flag on June 14, 1777. Our flag represents independence and unity and is a powerful symbol of Americanism and should be flown proudly.
On May 30, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation deeming June 14 as Flag Day. President Wilson stated, "It is the anniversary of the day upon which the flag of the United States was adopted by the Congress as the emblem of the Union." He also wrote, "On that day rededicate ourselves to the nation, 'one and inseparable' from which every thought that is not worthy of our fathers' first vows in independence, liberty, and right shall be excluded and in which we shall stand with united hearts." Although Flag Day is not a legal holiday, all Presidents since 1916 have issued a proclamation urging all Americans to pause and reflect on the meaning of our flag.
The members of the Kanawha Valley Chapter encourages to take a moment on Friday, June 14, 2019 to reflect on what our flag represents and the many men and women in our military who have died protecting our nation. We would like to share following interesting facts about our flag:
- The American flag made its first trip around the world on the ship Columbia. The ship left Boston on Sept. 30, 1787 and returned on Aug. 10, 1790.
- The first time the American flag circled the world by air was from April 6 to Sept. 28, 1924, when six United States Air Force crewmen flew around the world.
- In 1784 the people of China nicknamed our flag the "Flower Flag'. Not having seen the American flag until Captain John Greene sailed his ship The Empress of China to the Canton River on September 13th, a Chinese viewer remarked it looked like a beautiful flower.
- In May of 1812, a log school house at Catamount Hill near Colrain, Massachusetts, gained the distinction of first flying the American flag over a school house. The flag was constructed by sisters Rhoda and Lois Shippee. A stone marker memorializes the event. A commissioned painting by Frank Schoonererin 1941 depicts the flag rising.
- President Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893) ordered the American flag to be flown above the White House and other government buildings and urged schools to do the same.
- Live television coverage allowed the world to watch Apollo 11 Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin raise the American flag on the surface of the moon 20 July 1969. The 3 x 5 nylon flag was purchased at Sears for $5.50. The pole was driven only 6 to 9 inches into the moon's surface. Buzz Aldrin reported that because of the proximity to the lunar module, he believed the flag was blown over by the engine's exhaust during liftoff. The subsequent six manned Apollo missions also planted American flags, and those six flags are believed to still be standing as evidenced by photos taken in 2012 by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter camera. However, the flags appear to have faded to white.
- Flag Day commemorates the date the first Continental Congress adopted the American flag in its First Flag Resolution of June 14, 1777.
- While flag celebrations took place for many years, Woodrow Wilson was the first president to issue a proclamation that June 14 be called National Flag Day.
- Finally, in 1949 Congress approved and President Harry Truman signed the bill officially recognizing Flag Day.
Some reminders about showing respect for our flag from the National Flag Code:
During the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, playing the National Anthem, or flag passing in review:
- Stand at attention, facing the flag. During the playing of the National Anthem, if no flag is present, stand facing the music.
- Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute.
- Veterans, not in uniform, may render the military salute.
- The left hand should be holding nothing with your arm resting at your side.
- Men should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart.
Shirley M. Gilkeson is the Public Relations Chair of the Kanawha Valley Chapter DAR; Honorary WVDAR State Regent; and Past Vice President General NSDAR.