Diatribe: Has Flag Day Been Forgotten?
In my hometown, most houses had a little metal bracket on their front, usually near the mailbox, that was used to display the American Flag. On special occasions, namely patriotic holidays like Memorial Day, Flag Day or Labor Day, the flags would be displayed from early in the morning until dusk. Never was a U.S. Flag flown after dark without a spotlight or during inclement weather. It was never to touch the ground or be disrespected in any way. The United States Flag Code was always taken very seriously.
Unfortunately, through the years, the significance of the American Flag seems to have diminished. The modern era, with its share of military conflict, doesn’t muster the amount of patriotism that most communities experienced during and after the two World Wars early in the twentieth century. The American Flag appears to have, sadly, become a nostalgic piece of history rather than the living memorial that it could, and should, be.
Today is Flag Day. One of the many dates specifically mentioned by the Flag Code as a day during which the flag should be displayed. While the Fourth of July was traditionally celebrated as the country’s birthday, the idea of an annual celebration specifically devoted to the Flag is thought to have originated in 1885 when a Wisconsin schoolteacher arranged for his pupils to write essays on the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes as the nation’s flag. In subsequent years, other teachers, community groups and historical societies followed suit and, in 1916 Flag Day was officially established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson. Flag Day was celebrated in many communities for years, but it was not until August 3, 1949 that President Harry S. Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.
September 11, 2001 was the most patriotic day of my life. When the terrorists hijacked four airliners and changed our world forever, I remember a feeling of community … of patriotism … of pride … that I had never felt before and have never felt since. I believe that feeling should be experienced by every American … every day … but most certainly on days like today when history and community have determined that we should celebrate our collective pride in our great nation, we should set aside our differences and we should be neighbors united in a common pursuit of happiness.
My house has a little bracket on the front of it. And it’s being used today. Does yours?
Happy Flag Day.