There have been a lot of questions about the actual starting date of Flag Day. Somewhere along the line I was told that there was a year that it wasn’t held — 1918 because of the flu outbreak. I’m not sure who told me that but that might help clear things up.
Walt Schaar send me an e-mail pointing out that someone had raised a question about the actual start of Flag Day itself. By chanch, I had done a little research on that very thing — thanks to my daughter Kelli who was in Washington, D.C., recently. So I’m sending this along …
Kelli brought back information about the history of Flag Day back from a visit to the Old Post Office Tower.
It begins with a June 14, 1914, quote about the meaning of the flag by the Secretary of the Interior who said, “I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of color, a symbol of yourself, the pictured suggestion of that big thing which makes this nation.”
Some historic dates gleaned from the Post Office information sheet:
1777 – The official adoption of the flag was made by the Second Continental Congress occurred on June 14.
1861 – According to Wikipedia, “The earliest reference to the suggestion of a Flag Day is cited in Kansas: a Cyclopedia of State History …” and credits George Morris of Hartford, Conn., with coming up with the idea for a Flag Day celebration. His idea led to a celebration in Hartford that year.
1886 – Through numerous articles and speeches, Dr. Bernard J. Cigrand, a school teacher from Fredonia, Wis., is credited with the first promotion of a national celebration of the flag.
1890 – The Sons of the American Revolution propose a nationwide display of the flag on June 14th.
1893 – Dr. Cigrand founds the American Flag Day Association in Chicago, holding celebrations on the third Saturday of June. Also that year, the first official celebration of Flag Day is held in Philadelphia. The mayor decreed that all public buildings were to fly the Stars and Stripes.
1897 – New York City holds Flag Day celebrations.
1908 – The post office department headquarters in D.C. inaugurates its celebration of Flag Day with “dignified pomp and circumstance.” The festivities include bands choirs, and speakers. The post office building’s entire atrium was decorated with 46-star flags, the largest of which hands from the fifth floor balcony and measures 70-feet, 3-inches by 37-feet. It is the largest American flag of its time. These celebrations continue through the mid-1920s.
1909-10(?) – The finest town in the nation holds its first celebration in one of these two years — at least that’s the closest I’ve been able to pin it down and no, this wasn’t part of the hand out from the center. And in case you were wondering, the flag that led off the parade that first year — assuming they had a parade — had 46 stars. That version went into effect in 1908, the year after Oklahoma joined the union, and lasted until 1912.
1912 – President Taft officially standardizes the flag.
1916 – President Wilson issues a proclamation requiring that June 14 as Flag Day, now a legal holiday.
1937 – Pennsylvania became the first — and remains the only — state to make Flag Day an official state holiday. Nor is the date an official federal holiday.
1949 – On Aug. 3, Congress jointly resolves “that the 14th of June of each year is designated as Flag Day and the President of the United States is authorized and requested to issue annually a proclamation calling upon all government buildings on such day, and urging the people to observe the day as the anniversary of the adaptation 1777 action by the Second Continental Congress. President Truman signs the measure into law the same day.
Present – Apparently the largest parade currently is held in Troy, a town of 75,000 in upper New York state. This year will mark Troy’s 42nd annual event and is expected to attract upwards of 100,000 visitors. Can you imagine the traffic problems that would attract in our Fairfield? Troy, by the way, has a second big parade every year honoring a well-known home town patriotic figure. A guy called Uncle Sam.
Of course to those of us who grew up in Fairfield, the fact that the community’s patriotism has remained in tact over the decades is worthy of pride but the emotions that are evoked when we return home to visit with our “extended family” is really the “glue” that has held it all together.
I was really surprised and pleased to see your posting here. I remember a baseball game at Liberty in ’68 or ’69 that you umpired. You called a strike on me that I was not really pleased about. As I stepped out and mubbled a bit, you said something to the effect of ‘Come on Bill, get in the box.’ I’m thinking ‘How does he know my name?’. I think I struck out.
Then there was a newspaper conference about the same time and you were conducting a seminar. I attended that along with my co-editor Sharon (big bazoomers and really short skirt)you pointed out how important it was to those of us at the smaller schools to see the game scores in the paper. I really appreciated that.
Finally, I remember your Mom coming over to my Mom’s place a couple times a week for a cocktail. They were really good friends. My Mom really appreciated here company. I hope all is well with you and yours.
Hello Bill Buth,
The web page and your updates are great for some of us South East Spokane folks. I knew today (June 14, 2011) might have special significance to Fairfield, Washington, but you saved me a drive down past Rockford by your super web page.