The Fourth of July is widely celebrated as the birth of America, but a separate day has been set aside to celebrate the birth of the American flag itself.
That day is June 14, the same day that Bernard Cigrand, a 19-year-old teacher in a small town in Wisconsin, asked his students in 1885 to write essays on the flag and its significance. Cigrand chose the assignment to commemorate the adoption of the stars and stripes as the national flag on June 14, 1777.
"Each year, Flag Day is a day where we try to explain to people that there is a proper way of disposing a flag," said Fred Whitecell, first vice commander for American Legion Post 25. "It shows respect to the flag and to the price people paid for that flag. I hope people pause and reflect on that on Flag Day."
There are many places across the Peninsula to do that reflection. As of late last month, Fort Monroe has a new flag at the former post.
A good place to see another of the large flag is at Casey Chevrolet at the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and J. Clyde Morris Boulevard in Newport News. The 20-foot by 38-foot garrison flag hoisted on a 92-foot pole, traditionally flown on military bases, is one of the largest flags possible to display, said manager Danny Lane.
That same size flag flies over Fort Wool.
Cigrand is hailed today as the founder of Flag Day, which was officially established on a nationwide level when President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation in 1916. The celebration was not cemented into law until 1949 when President Harry S. Truman signed an act designating the 14th day of June as National Flag Day.
Wisconsin typically celebrates its Flag Day historical origins with parades and ceremonies. While there are no parades planned here, there are two ceremonies people can attend on Flag Day.
In Williamsburg, approximately 100 new citizens will be naturalized in a ceremony featuring Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
"Flag Day seemed the most natural for a naturalization ceremony since these citizens will be pledging their allegiance to a new flag and that is what Flag Day is about, the flag as a symbol for the country," said Jim Bradley, a Colonial Williamsburg Foundation spokesman.
And in Newport News, the local post of the American Legion, an organization dedicated to supporting past and present veterans since 1919, will be hosting a flag disposal ceremony.
Flag Day Events
Flag Disposal Ceremony. 5:30 p.m. Thursday. Post 25, American Legion, 7609 Marshall Ave., Newport News. People with worn tattered flags are encouraged to bring the flags to the post by 4:30 p.m. or leave them in the flag disposal container in the parking lot. The public is invited to attend this ceremony. Information: 810-9039.
Naturalization Ceremony. 4 p.m., Thursday. Grounds of Colonial Williamsburg's Capitol Building, East End of Duke of Gloucester Street, Williamsburg. Approximately 100 new American citizens will take the oath of citizenship in an outdoor ceremony. Speaker: Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia attorney general. Free, open to public. Rain site: Kimball Theatre in Merchants Square.
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