Small town Wisconsin celebrates birthplace of National Flag Day

Updated: Jun. 14, 2022 at 6:00 AM CDT
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WAUBEKA, Wis. (WMTV) - Though Flag Day began nationwide on June 14 in 1916, the first recorded celebration of this day was perched on a Waubeka teacher’s desk 31 years before that.

Located in small town Waubeka in Ozaukee County, Dr. Bernard J. Cigrand, a 19-year-old teacher at the time held the first recognized observance of “flag birth day” on June 14, 1885. According to a historical essay from the Wisconsin Historical Society, they used a ten inch flag with only 38 stars at the time, standing on a bottle on his desk.

Dr. Cigrand would go on to make many efforts to have a national flag day observed, until former President Woodrow Wilson made it official in 1916.

In a 1946 newspaper article from the Cedarburg News, Waubeka constructed a flag pole in honor of Dr. Cigrand, to honor his designation as the “Father of Flag Day.”

He reportedly thought it was fitting to have National Flag Day on June 14 because that was also when the Continental Congress official adopted the Stars and Stripes back in 1777.

According to a 1942 Milwaukee Sentinel article, many former U.S. Presidents commended him, including Theodore Roosevelt, who allegedly sent a large autographed portrait of himself to Dr. Cigrand, as well as a “beautiful” dinner place from the White House itself.

Dr. Cigrand died in 1932, but his legacy lives on in Waubeka, where they host yearly celebrations for their status as the birthplace of Flag Day. This years celebration was held at the Americanism Center in the town.

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