Today, June 14 is Flag Day, a day conveniently couched midway between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, making this time of year one of the most patriotic in America.
Aside from the picnics and parades, speeches and gala, Flag Day is in fact a very important observance for all Americans.
According to usflag.org, the Fourth of July was traditionally celebrated as America's birthday, but the idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the Flag is believed to have first originated in 1885.
A Fredonia, Wis. schoolteacher, B.J. Cigrand, arranged for his pupils to observe June 14 (the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes) as 'Flag Birthday'. In numerous magazines and newspaper articles and public addresses over the following years, Cigrand continued to enthusiastically advocate the observance of June 14 as 'Flag Birthday', or 'Flag Day'.
Later on June 14, 1889, George Balch, a kindergarten teacher in New York City, planned appropriate ceremonies for the children of his school, and his idea of observing Flag Day was later adopted by the State Board of Education of New York.
And on June 14, 1891, the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia held a Flag Day celebration, and on June 14 of the following year, the New York Society of the Sons of the Revolution, celebrated Flag Day.
Following the suggestion of Colonel J. Granville Leach (at the time historian of the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolution), the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames of America on April 25, 1893, adopted a resolution requesting the mayor of Philadelphia and all others in authority and all private citizens to display the Flag on June 14. Leach went on to recommend that thereafter the day be known as 'Flag Day', and on that day, school children be assembled for appropriate exercises, with each child being given a small flag.
What's so amazing is that this holiday has persisted through times of war and peace. Regardless of political party or other affiliation, all Americans recognize the importance of Flag Day to our country's heritage and the forming of the American character.
So, please, remember to take time to remember why those flags are flying today and what they represent - the noble and unselfish sacrifices of those who made our country -and our flag - possible.