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June 14, 2010

Flag Day

Kevin E. Dayhoff

Today is the 233 birthday of the global symbol of freedom, the United States Flag. Have you put yours out as yet?


It was the Second Continental Congress which passed the “Flag Act of 1777,” on June 14, 1777, in the dark days of the American Revolution.


It is a mere 32-two words: "Resolved, that the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation."


The Second Continental Congress, which sat in session from May 10, 1775 to March 1, 1781, was originally convened to continue negotiations with Great Britain over the “Intolerable Acts.”


By the time the Second Continental Congress had convened in Philadelphia, the American Revolution had begun; the planned proceedings had been overtaken by the Battles of Lexington and Concord, in Middlesex County, Province of Massachusetts Bay, which had taken place just a few weeks before on April 19, 1775.


Exactly two years before the Flag Act of 1777, on June 14, 1775, the Congress had established the United States Army. Ten companies of "expert riflemen" were originally authorized – approximately 800 soldiers.


On June 15, 1775, George Washington was chosen to head the Continental Army. The delegate who nominated George Washington was Frederick’s own Thomas Johnson.


Over the years a number of organizations, states, and presidents have celebrated Flag Day in various ways. To celebrate the Flag Act of 1777, President Woodrow Wilson – on May 30, 1916 – designated June 14 as “Flag Day.”


President Harry Truman signed a joint resolution passed by Congress August 3, 1949, that designated June 14 of each year as “Flag Day.”


On June 9, 1966, Congress passed a joint resolution to designate the week in which June 14 occurs as “National Flag Week” and calling upon all citizens of the United States to display the flag during that week.


According to the Library of Congress, “To date, there have been twenty-seven official versions of the flag, but the arrangement of the stars varied according to the flag-makers' preferences until 1912 when President [William Howard] Taft standardized the then-new flag's 48 stars into six rows of eight.


“The forty-nine-star flag (1959-60), as well as the fifty-star flag, also have standardized star patterns. The current version of the flag dates to July 4, 1960, after Hawaii became the fiftieth state on August 21, 1959.”


An article by the Public Broadcasting System notes: “The first time the American flag was flown overseas on a foreign fort was in Libya, over Fort Derne, on the shores of Tripoli in 1805.”


PBS also calls to our attention that the “U.S. flag is flown 24 hours a day by either presidential proclamation or law at the following places:


“Fort McHenry, National Monument and Historic Shrine, Baltimore, Maryland; Flag House Square, Baltimore, Maryland; United States Marine Corps Memorial (Iwo Jima), Arlington, Virginia; On the Green of the Town of Lexington, Massachusetts; The White House, Washington, D.C.; United States Customs Ports of Entry; and the Grounds of the National Memorial Arch in Valley Forge State Park, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.”


Hopefully, you and your family will display the flag proudly for the rest of the week – especially today.


Please take a moment to reflect on the flag that has steadfastly stood for America’s strength, unity, and liberty for 233 years and pray that we not take the hard work this nation faces for granted.


May we persevere and remain vigilant for our future.


The flag has remained a constant reminder of the sacrifices that have been made to maintain the freedoms, liberties, and way of life of this great, noble experiment we call the United States of America.


When we display the flag, we express our gratitude to the men and women who have gone before us and fought to ensure that the many blessings and freedoms we enjoy will continue for many generations to come.


By flying the flag we honor our men and woman in uniform who carry the flag in harm’s way in two ongoing wars halfway across the globe and pay humble tribute to this enduring American symbol and celebrate the hope and ideals that it embodies.


Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. E-mail him at


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