Resolved, that the Flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation. – June 14, 1777, Continental Congress
Each June 14th we remember and honor the official adoption of our flag in 1777 by the Continental Congress. Legend has it the flag was commissioned by George Washington himself, and created by Betsy Ross.
The annual traditional June observance originated in a classroom in Wisconsin over 100 years later, in 1885. Bernard J. Cigrand, then a 19 year old teacher, “placed a 10 inch, 38- star flag in a bottle on his desk then assigned essays on the flag and its significance.” After many years of lobbying on Cigrand’s part, President Woodrow Wilson eventually issued a proclamation in 1916, calling for national observance of the holiday. In 1949, President Truman signed into law Congressional legislation designating June 14th as National Flag Day. The law also called for an annual Presidential proclamation.
Today is the day when every American should raise the flag and take a moment to consider all that it symbolizes: The liberation of millions around the world; The sacrifices of men and women on the battlefield; The ideals of the Revolution … The idea of freedom itself. So much is represented and evoked by the cloth of the flag. So many ideas, so much history, so many lives symbolized and embodied by 13 stripes of white and red, a field of blue and 50 stars.
This year it has extra meaning. The American flag is at half-mast across the country. It is being held high in defiance and laid upon memorials. Today it symbolizes Orlando’s resolve in the face of terror. Our national resolve.
Even the vigorous debate pitting those who would blame guns against those who would blame terror is symbolized in this flag. In our national spirit of free speech, the exchange of ideas, of working together or even at cross-purposes, all as Americans. Democrat and Republican and Libertarian and Green Party member alike.
This is the purpose of a symbol is it not? That all who see it may know what it is about. That it be a light in a world of darkness. That those who suffer, those oppressed, those huddled masses yearning to be free, may see it and in it find hope.
Flag day is a low-key observance. It’s not marked by the spectacles of the Fourth of July or the solemn ceremonies of Memorial Day. But it is an important day, and something that is important to remember.
The flag is raised in both remembrance and promise. It is the symbol of all we have been, and all we have yet to be. It has been carried into battle by countless warriors, raised in victory on foreign soil, and flown at half-mast at the passing of our heroes and leaders. It told those in prisoner and concentration camps that freedom had come at last. It is the picture of us, in red, white and blue.
Today, and this week, don’t simply fly your flag. Remember why it is there, and how much has been sacrificed on its, and our, behalf.
God Bless America.
*This article was first posted at RedState in 2010 and has been modified and reposted today.