Flag day is under-celebrated in New Hampshire, and many people have no clue of the day’s origin. Absent of parades and speeches, today’s celebration happens quietly, mostly in classrooms. So what is the big deal about Flag Day?
In essence, our flag is a piece of cloth which we have the right to fly should we wish to, but we also have the right to burn it. What an amazing country we live in that we have those rights. To many the American flag is a symbol of sacrifice. From the date of its creation, how many of our soldiers have rallied around it, fallen on the battlefield beneath it, celebrated victories with the flag clutched in their hands, and saluted it with pride on occasions of both celebration and sorrow?
Flag Day’s origins began on the 14th day of June in 1777, when the United States congress adopted its first official national flag. There are many myths associated with this flag. Reportedly a drawing of the flag had been made with General Washington’s own hand. The first flag did have some of the symbols found on Washington’s own family crest, but that in itself is not proof of symbolic origin.
The first official flag is often called the “Betsey Ross” flag, though there is no primary evidence of any kind that Mrs. John Ross had anything to do with the sewing. That first flag contained 13 stars and 13 stripes.
There is, however, primary evidence that Mary Pickersgill (and others) were contracted to sew two flags in the summer of 1813. One of these flags flew over Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland, and became the inspiration for the “Star Spangled Banner.”
Flag Tidbit: At that time additional stripes were added as new states joined the original thirteen. On April 4, 1818 Congress restored the original number of stripes (to 13), providing for new states to be recognized by additional stars instead. The act also provided that when a star was added to the flag, that it “would take effect on the fourth day of July next succeeding such admission.” The last star to be added to the American flag was on July 4th, 1960, when Hawaii achieved its Statehood. The year before, a star had been added to celebrate Alaska’s statehood, but it only flew for one year, under the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The first large-scale observance of Flag Day took place in 1877, on the occasion of the flag’s centennial. In that same year Congress requested that the flag be flown at all public buildings on June 14th of that year.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day. In August 1949, President Harry Truman approved a resolution of Congress to establish a National Flag Day. Flag Day is not an official federal holiday.
(Opinion) Should members of the New Hampshire legislature be allowed to celebrate Flag Day? Our “Hall of Flags,” located in the State House building, contains an amazing array of flags, going back to the Civil War. Many of these blood-stained and bullet-ridden flags were carried onto the battlefield. These flags are greatly endangered. Instead of having them preserved, they are being allowed to rot away. The committee in charge of determining their future, has decided to photograph them each year to see how quickly they deteriorate, rather than following expensive preservation recommendations. The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance has placed the “Hall of Flags” on their priority list of endangered historic property. Many other groups are calling for restoration now.
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