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Flag Day

June 14 Flag Day

It’s one of those patriotic days that have few traditions surrounding it. No real parades, picnics or barbecue unless it happens to fall on a weekend. And it falls on the day we also celebrate the birth of the United States Army. Although not an official federal holiday, Flag Day is observed widely across the United States.

Many towns and cities would normally hold and annual Flag Day parade, the largest of which is staged in Troy, New York, attracting some 50,000 spectators. However, given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, these celebrations are unlikely to take place in 2020. The week of 14 June is designated as National Flag Week, during which time American citizens are encouraged to fly the flag at their homes, and all government buildings are expected to display the stars and stripes.

How did Flag day start? According to the National Flag Day Foundation:
“On June 14th, 1885, Bernard J. Cigrand, a 19 year old teacher at Stony Hill School, placed a 10 inch, 38- star flag in a bottle on his desk then assigned essays on the flag and its significance. This observance, commemorated Congresses adoption of the Stars and Stripes as the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777. This observance was also the beginning of Cigrand’s long years of fervent and devoted effort to bring about national recognition and observance of Flag Day.

Bernard J. Cigrand 1866-1932

The crowning achievement of his life came at age fifty when President Wilson, on May 30, 1916, issued a proclamation calling for a nation wide observance of Flag Day. Then in 1949, President Truman signed an Act Of Congress designating the 14th day of June every year as National Flag Day. On June 14th, 2004, the 108th U.S. Congress voted unanimously on H.R. 662 that Flag Day originated in Ozaukee County, Waubeka Wisconsin.”

More information about Bernard J. Cigrand and Flag Day can be found here:

Things you can do today

-Fly the flag from your home or display the flag on your desk
-Attend any ceremonies honoring the flag (flag raising ceremonies are best)
-Dress in Red White and Blue!
-Post an image on your social media page (be creative)
-Recite the pledge of allegiance (best to gather a group!)
-Sing songs associated with the flag (George M. Cohan comes to mind)
-Listen to John Philip Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever
-Play a bugle call to honor our flag (To the Color in the morning, Retreat in the afternoon and Taps at Night)
-Write a short essay on what the flag means to you
-Paint or construct your own flag
-Bake a cake with a flag theme (immmmmm….patriotic)
-View all 27 versions of the US Flag (did you know there are 27 configurations?)
-Read the history of the birth of the flag (Betsy Ross)
-Read the history of the birth of our national anthem (Francis Scott Key)
-Become a Vexillologist! (look that up)
-Visit The Smithsonian and view the flag that flew over Fort McHenry
-Visit the Flag House in Baltimore where Mary Pickersgill sewed the Fort McHenry flag
-Read up on the proper protocol and etiquette for our flag (Public Law 94-344)
-Practice good Citizenship (Honesty, Compassion, Respect, Responsibility, and Courage)
-Thank a veteran for helping preserve our ability to fly the flag! (they’ve earned that)

Go and celebrate our flag!

Lincoln raising the flag in Philadelphia 1861

Standing as I do, with my hand upon this staff, and under the folds of the American flag, I ask you to stand by me so long as I stand by it.” – Abraham Lincoln

“If the star-spangled banner floats only over free American citizens in every quarter of the land, and our country has before it a long and glorious career of justice, liberty, and civilization, we are indebted to the unselfish devotion of the noble army.”Frederick Douglas

The Stars and Stripes Forever — 1897 by Mort Künstler

“In a kind of dreamy way, I used to think over old days at Washington when I was leader of the Marine Band … when we played at all public functions, and I could see the Stars and Stripes flying from the flagstaff in the grounds of the White House just as plainly as if I were back there again….Then I began to think of all the countries I had visited, of the foreign people I had met, of the vast differences between America and American people and other countries and other peoples, and that flag our ours became glorified … and to my imagination it seemed to be the biggest, grandest, flag in the world, and I could not get back under it quick enough.”
John Philip Sousa


In these days as we strive to move toward full justice for every American we should, on this Flag Day, look to the one symbol that unites every American. Our flag. 

We honor the flag with certain protocols. The proper display of the flag, the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, the performance of The Star-Spangled Banner or the bugle call “To The Color”, and the manner of standing and saluting are notated in the US Code. However, Americans are not compelled by law to observe any of the protocols.

Title 4 of the United States Code outlines the role of flag of the United States

No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.

(a)The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

(b)The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.

(c)The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.

(d)The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.

(e)The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.

(f)The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.

(g)The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.

(h)The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.

(i)The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.

(j)No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.

(k)The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

During the hoisting or lowering of the flag or when it passes in parade or review, Americans should stand at attention facing the flag and place their right hand over the heart. Uniformed military members render the military salute. Men not in uniform should remove any headdress and hold it with their right hand at their left shoulder, the hand resting over the heart. Those who are not U.S. citizens should stand at attention.


Retired Adm. Bill McRaven, the former head of U.S. Special Operations Command wrote:
“….honoring the flag does not imply that the republic for which it stands is perfect. Far from it, honoring the flag is our collective commitment that we will constantly attempt to get better as a nation, to improve as a people, and to use the freedoms that we have been given to make the earth a better place.

However, while no one should be compelled to stand, they should recognize that by sitting in protest to the flag they are disrespecting everyone who sacrificed to make this country what it is today — as imperfect as it might be.

Those that believe the flag represents oppression should remember all the Americans who fought to eliminate bigotry, racism, sexism, imperialism, communism, and terrorism. The flag rode with the Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th, 10th, 24th and 25 Cavalry and Infantry Regiments.

It was carried by the suffragists down the streets of New York City.

It flew with the Tuskegee Airmen of WWII. It was planted in the fields where Cesar Chavez spoke.

It marched with Martin Luther King Jr.

It rocketed into space on the shoulder patches of women, gay, Hispanic, Asian
and African American astronauts.

Today, it waves high over the White House. It is a flag for everyone, of every color, of every race, of every creed, and every orientation, but the privilege of living under this flag does not come without cost. Nor should it come without respect.

The nation and everything it strives for is embodied in the American Flag. We strive to be more inclusive. We strive to be more understanding. We strive to fix the problems that plague our society. But in striving to do so, we must have a common bond; some symbol that reminds us of our past struggles and propels us to a brighter, more enlightened future. That symbol is the American flag.”


I don’t care what they call it. It is the burning of flags.

The burning of United States Flags in ceremony has become a ritual over the past years. Called flag retirements, I am against these ceremonies because I believe they send out the wrong message. One does not honor or respect the flag by burning it. Especially on FLAG DAY!

Yes, I understand the United States Flag Code, Title 4, Section 8k that states: “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”

They should have added the words “in private” ….

Veterans Service Organizations Boy Scouts and even (good grief) military units are getting involved with these flag burning ceremonies. Over the years it has become more elaborate with speeches and ritual recitations of flag history or origins (some of which is made up), cutting up of the flag before burning and the sounding of Taps at these ceremonies which is not authorized anywhere…

The Army regulation AR 840-10 states:

c. Unserviceable U.S. flags.
(1) Indoor display. Unserviceable indoor flags should be certified unserviceable by the commander, head of an office, or designated official. Authorized replacement can be obtained at If the unserviceable flag has historic value, a tag containing the historical information should be attached to the flag, and it should be kept as a memento of service by the unit or office to which it belongs. If there is no historic value, it should be destroyed privately, (emphasis), preferably by burning, shredding, or some other method that does not show irreverence or disrespect to the flag.
(2) Outdoor display. Unserviceable outdoor display flags should be destroyed privately, (emphasis) preferably by burning, shredding, or by some other method that does not show irreverence or disrespect to the flag.

Time would be better spent in ceremonies HONORING the flag. Why not have a formal retreat ceremony to lower the flag reverently while playing The Star-Spangled Banner or sounding To The Color (or Retreat for you Marine and Navy folks)


Oh, and Taps is never appropriate for the lowering or burning of a flag. EVER.


  1. Kelley Fletcher Kelley Fletcher June 16, 2020

    Jari, this article is beautifully written and quite interesting. The included historical content is very impressive! Thank you for taking so much time to share your wealth of knowledge and patriotism with us.

  2. Roy Perrin Roy Perrin June 14, 2020

    Still, one of the most beautiful things to see, to me, is our U. S. Flag freely waving in the breeze. The symbolism of this is quite profound, and I pray that our entire nation will grow to respect this, as well as others.

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