WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - June 14th is the national observance day for the American flag.
We celebrate it on this day because on June 14, 1777, Congress authorized the "stars and stripes" as the official national symbol.
There are many stories about where Flag Day originated and one of them is from Wisconsin.
In 1885, in an area called Waubeka, which is actually in the Town of Fredonia, a 19-year-old school teacher asked his students to write essays on what the flag means to them. He told the students that June 14th is the flag's birthday. Ever since then, the teacher dedicated himself to inspiring not only his students but all Americans to find out about the real meaning of the flag. There schoolhouse where it all began, Stony Hill School, is a now a historical site.
Although celebrations of the flag started as early as the 1860's, it was not until 1949 when Congress approved June 14th as the national observance day.
We all know what the flag looks like today but the in earlier times in America, the flag did not look the same. The flag we know today reported came about when Betsy Ross sewed it in 1776. That flag was the first to have the red and white stripes, white stars and blue block where the stars laid.
Each of those colors were selected to represent something different. Red for valor and bravery; white for purity and innocence; and blue for vigilance, perseverance and justice. Betsy Ross' flag had 13 stars in a circle for the 13 original colonies.
The first flag to fly in America though was called the "Liberty Tree" flag. It had a green pine tree sitting on a white background with the phrase, "An Appeal To Heaven" on it. The flag did not receive support from all the colonies though and was replaced. The United States had 5 different flags between the "Liberty Tree" flag and Betsy Ross' flag.
Fly the flag high at full staff every June 14th and enjoy Flag Day.
Flag Day message from the Adjutant General of Wisconsin, Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar:
"Resolved that the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes alternate red and white: that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation."
With those words on June 14, 1777, John Adams and the Continental Congress authorized a new banner to symbolize a fledgling nation. One hundred and eight years later, Bernard Cigrand - the youngest son of Luxembourg immigrants - perched a small flag on his desk at the front of a one-room schoolhouse in Waubeka, Wis., and asked his students to write an essay on what the U.S. flag meant to them. The next year, Cigrand called for an annual observance of the birth of the flag in an article published in the Chicago Argus.
What is it about a piece of cloth that merits a day of celebration?
I would suggest that Flag Day is less about the fabric of the Star-Spangled Banner and more about the fabric of our great nation. The U.S. flag, quite simply, reflects our nation, our values, our character, and our potential.
Millions of individual threads knotted together, creating a strong bond which doesn't easily unravel. What a wonderful metaphor for our nation - born of inspired ideals and courageous action, reinforced by waves of immigrants in search of a better life, melting together generation by generation, through crises, war, and controversy - but always striving and always improving. A flag worthy of our republic built on individual freedom and individual responsibility.
Francis Scott Key, when he saw the flag still flew over Fort McHenry in 1814, was inspired to write a poem that became our National Anthem.
President Woodrow Wilson, who issued a proclamation in 1916 establishing Flag Day as an annual national observation, had this to say: "Old Glory, this flag which we honor and under which we serve, is the emblem of our unity, our power, our thoughts and purposes as a nation."
Our flag, more than anything else, is a symbol of hope and freedom. The U.S. flags on the moon are not a symbol of conquest, but achievement born of that freedom. Our pledge of allegiance is an agreement with what the flag represents.
Flag Day coincides with another patriotic anniversary. On June 14, 1775, the Continental Congress formally established a Continental Army. Today the U.S. Army, which bears our flag in peace and in war, observes June 14 as its official birthday. The Wisconsin Army National Guard's 7,700 plus citizen-soldiers celebrate this heritage and proudly served our nation and this flag since 1848 when Wisconsin was admitted to the Union.
I invite you to take a moment and reflect on what we stand for as a nation, and the flag that so simply and elegantly conveys that message to the world.