American calendars are crammed with a number of holidays and observations. So many, in fact, that some of the lesser-known dates don’t seem to get a lot of recognition. Coming on the heels of Memorial Day, Flag Day (June 14) has relatively few fireworks ignited in its honor. But there is a reason why it’s deserving of a day all its own.
As the meaning behind the flag changed, people began to regard its creation with more reverence. In the 1800s, a number of people decided that the flag’s inception was worthy of recognition, creating a groundswell of support that eventually went national. In the early days of the Civil War, textile manufacturers who stood to profit from mass patriotism backed the idea. So did private citizens. In 1861, a Connecticut resident named George Morris pushed for a day of observance, with his hometown of Hartford observing June 14 as a kind of flag birthday. So did Charles Dudley Warner, a nationally known newspaper editor from Hartford, where the textile industry was largest. In 1885, school teacher B.J. Cigrand wrote to newspapers and magazines advocating for the date. Later, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks managed to convince President Woodrow Wilson to issue a formal proclamation for the day in 1916. President Harry Truman signed its observance into law in 1950.
For Truman, the concept of Flag Day was not only to celebrate its creation, but to acknowledge the ideals behind it. Though it’s not a federal holiday, it is a time to pay respect to what’s become part of American iconography.
Take a moment this Flag Day to honor our flag and what it stands for, as well as the men and women who defend this star-spangled banner that waves over the land of the free and the home of the brave.
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