If flags throughout the Katy area seem to be flying a little prouder today, it’s because today is Flag Day.
Flag Day is celebrated in the United States annually on June 14. The date commemorates the adoption of the flag on this date by resolution of the Second Continental Congress in 1777.
June 14 is also the day the United States Army also celebrates its beginning. On this day in 1775, Congress adopted the creation of “the American continental army.”
According to the National Flag Day Foundation, the Continental Congress adopted the flag as the “the official National symbol of the United States of America” on Saturday of June 14, 1777 in the fifth item of the days agenda. The entry in the journal of the Continental Congress 1774-1789 Vol. VIII 1777 reads “Resolved that the flag of the thirteen United States be Thirteen stripes alternate red and white: that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
Flag Day had its origins in Waubeka, Wisc., in 1885 when Bernard John Cigrand, a nineteen-year-old schoolteacher in a one room school called Stony Hill School placed a 10-inch, 38 star flag in an inkwell and had his students write essays on what the flag meant to them. He called June 14th the flag’s birthday. From that day on, Cigrand dedicated himself to inspire not only his students but also all Americans in the meaning and majesty of the American flag.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation officially establishing June 14 as Flag Day. In 1949, National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress; however, it is not observed as an official federal holiday.
The following are etiquette tips for displaying the flag from the United States Flag Code:
- The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing.
- It can be flown upside down only as a distress signal.
- The flag shouldn’t be used as a drapery, or for covering a speaker’s desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.
- The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs shouldn’t be attached to the staff or halyard.
- The flag shouldn’t be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, firefighters, police officers and members of patriotic organizations.
- The flag should never have placed on it, or attached to it, any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind.
- The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
- When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. It should be folded neatly and ceremoniously for storage.
- The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary.
- When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner.
Displaying the Flag Outdoors
- When the flag is displayed from a staff projecting from a window, balcony, or a building, the union should be at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half staff.
- When it is displayed from the same flagpole with another flag — of a state, community, society or Scout unit — the flag of the United States must always be at the top, except that the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for Navy personnel when conducted by a Naval chaplain on a ship at sea.
- When the flag is displayed over a street, it should be hung vertically, with the union to the north or east.
- If the flag is suspended over a sidewalk, the flag’s union should be farthest from the building.
Raising and Lowering the Flag
- The flag should be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously.
- Ordinarily, it should be displayed only between sunrise and sunset. It should be illuminated if displayed at night.
- The flag is saluted as it is hoisted and lowered. The salute is held until the flag is unsnapped from the halyard or through the last note of music, whichever is the longest.
Parading and Saluting the Flag
- When carried in a procession, the flag should be to the right of the marchers.
- When other flags are carried, the flag of the United States may be centered in front of the others or carried to their right.
- When the flag passes in a procession, or when it is hoisted or lowered, everyone should face the flag and salute.
- To salute, all persons come to attention.
- Those in uniform give the appropriate formal salute.
- Citizens not in uniform salute by placing their right hand over the heart.
- A man wearing a hat or other head coverings should remove it and hold it to his left shoulder, hand over the heart.
- Members of organizations in formation salute upon command of the person in charge.
The Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem
- The pledge of allegiance should be rendered by standing at attention, facing the flag, and saluting.
- When the national anthem is played or sung, citizens should stand at attention and salute at the first note and hold the salute through the last note. The salute is directed to the flag, if displayed, otherwise it’s directed to the music.
The Flag in Mourning
- To place the flag at half staff, hoist it to the peak for an instant and lower it to a position half way between the top and bottom of the staff. The flag is to be raised again to the peak for a moment before it is lowered. On Memorial Day, the flag is displayed at half staff until noon and at full staff from noon to sunset.
- The flag is to be flown at half staff in mourning for designated, principal government leaders and upon presidential or gubernatorial order.
- When used to cover a casket, the flag should be placed with the union at the head and over the left shoulder. It should not be lowered into the grave.