If you’re free tomorrow morning and feel even remotely patriotic, you might drop by City Hall. In a brief ceremony at 9 a.m., citizens — maybe a few, maybe quite a few – will participate in a brief ceremonial raising of the U.S. Flag.
Among their reasons is the calendar. June 14 is Flag Day, and commemorates the day in 1777 that Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the flag of this new country. It wasn’t until 1916, when President Wilson signed a proclamation to that effect, that Flag Day’s observance became a national occasion. Thirty-three years later, in 1949, President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14 as Flag Day.
That’s some of the history, and it’s worth knowing. But it isn’t the only reason for Saturday’s flag-raising. Another, according to longtime resident Stormy Kennedy, is to express gratitude for the contributions of all those individuals who have served this country in uniform, whether they faced combat or performed their duties far from the front lines or even during peacetime.
Yet another purpose is educational. It’s intended for Manhattan’s young citizens who might not know much about our flag, its history and what it stands for.
There’s plenty of history, from the flag’s association with Francis Scott Key’s writing of “The Star Spangled Banner” to the sea captain in Salem, Mass., who is credited with dubbing it “Old Glory” to U.S. flags being planted both at the North Pole and on the moon.
America’s children ought to know some of the facts and legends — and protocol — surrounding our flag. But of greater benefit would be an understanding of why our flag inspires individual Americans — civilians as well as military personnel — to do great things for the good of this country. And that ours is the flag of a nation whose citizens have come from all over the world — a free country to which people flee, not from which people flee.
Flag Day is not a legal holiday except in Pennsylvania. That doesn’t preclude Americans from observing it and appreciating anew our countless national blessings. Thus, we encourage residents to display the Stars and Stripes from their porches on Saturday. Residents also will be welcome at the ceremony at City Hall, which grew out of an informal meeting several weeks ago in City Hall involving Mrs. Kennedy, Mayor Wynn Butler, City Clerk Gary Fees, Tom Fryer, Mel Borst and others.
We think they’re on to something good.