Is December the flag-flyingest month?

December 16, 2014

November offers several flag flying days, especially in years when there is an election.

But December may be the month with the most flag-flying dates, if we include statehood days.

December 7 is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.  It’s not in the Flag Code, but it is in a public law (P.L. 103-308) that the president should issue a proclamation asking Americans to fly flags.

December 25 is Christmas Day, a federal holiday, and one of the score of dates designated in the Flag Code.

Other dates?

Several states attained statehood in December, so people in those states should fly their flags (and you may join them):

  • Illinois, December 3 (1818, 21st state)
  • Delaware, December 7 (1787, 1st state)
  • Mississippi, December 10 (1817, 20th state)
  • Indiana, December 11 (1816, 19th state)
  • Pennsylvania, December 12 (1787, 2nd state)
  • Alabama, December 14 (1819, 22nd state)
  • New Jersey, December 18 (1787, 3rd state)
  • Iowa, December 28 (1846, 29th state)
  • Texas, December 29 (1845, 28th state)

December 15 is Bill of Rights Day, marking the day in 1791 when the Bill of Rights was declared ratified; but though this event generally gets a presidential proclamation, there is no law or executive action that requires flags to fly on that date, for that occasion.

Eleven flag-flying dates in December.  Does any other month have as many flag flying opportunities?

Have I missed any December flag-flying dates?

Flags at the Washington Monument, looking down the Capital Mall towards the U.S. Capitol.

Flags at the Washington Monument, looking down the Capital Mall towards the U.S. Capitol.


Fly your flag December 7, 2014, for National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

December 7, 2014

President Obama paid respects to those who died at Pearl Harbor on a visit in 2011; White House caption: President Barack Obama places a wreath at the USS Arizona Memorial, part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Dec. 29, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama paid respects to those who died at Pearl Harbor on a visit in 2011; White House caption: President Barack Obama places a wreath at the USS Arizona Memorial, part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Dec. 29, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

From the White House:

Presidential Proclamation — National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, 2014
NATIONAL PEARL HARBOR REMEMBRANCE DAY, 2014

- – – – – – -

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

On the morning of December 7, 1941, Japanese planes thundered over Hawaii, dropping bombs in an unprovoked act of war against the United States.The attack claimed the lives of more than 2,400 Americans.It nearly destroyed our Pacific Fleet, but it could not shake our resolve.While battleships smoldered in the harbor, patriots from across our country enlisted in our Armed Forces, volunteering to take up the fight for freedom and security for which their brothers and sisters made the ultimate sacrifice.On National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we pay tribute to the souls lost 73 years ago, we salute those who responded with strength and courage in service of our Nation, and we renew our dedication to the ideals for which they so valiantly fought.

In the face of great tragedy at Pearl Harbor — our first battle of the Second World War — our Union rallied together, driven by the resilient and unyielding American spirit that defines us.The millions of Americans who signed up and shipped out inspired our Nation and put us on the path to victory in the fight against injustice and oppression around the globe.As they stormed the beaches of Normandy and planted our flag in the sands of Iwo Jima, our brave service members rolled back the tide of tyranny in Europe and throughout the Pacific theater.Because of their actions, nations that once knew only the blinders of fear saw the dawn of liberty.

The men and women of the Greatest Generation went to war and braved hardships to make the world safer, freer, and more just.As we reflect on the lives lost at Pearl Harbor, we remember why America gave so much for the survival of liberty in the war that followed that infamous day.Today, with solemn gratitude, we recall the sacrifice of all who served during World War II, especially those who gave their last full measure of devotion and the families they left behind.As proud heirs to the freedom and progress secured by those who came before us, we pledge to uphold their legacy and honor their memory.

The Congress, by Public Law 103-308, as amended, has designated December 7 of each year as “National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim December 7, 2014, as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.I encourage all

Americans to observe this solemn day of remembrance and to honor our military, past and present, with appropriate ceremonies and activities.I urge all Federal agencies and interested organizations, groups, and individuals to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff this December 7 in honor of those American patriots who died as a result of their service at Pearl Harbor.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.

BARACK OBAMA

If your flag staff doesn’t have a half-staff ability, fly the flag anyway.

If you’re wondering: no, this flag-flying date has not been added to the Flag Code; but according to the law, it will recur every year.

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Changing a nation’s flag? New Zealand might

December 4, 2014

A few of us, a vanishing few, remember when Canada changed its flag in 1965.

Canada's flag in 1965. Wikipedia image.

Canada’s flag in 1965, featuring the British Union Jack. This design dates from 1957, following several earlier, similar designs. Wikipedia image.

Change the flag?  What a concept!

We probably forget that the U.S. flag, while recognizable since 1789, changed quite a bit between then and now, mostly in stars, but also in stripes.

Here’s what Canada settled on in 1965, after a surprisingly bitter debate that ran for months in 1964:

Wikipedia:  The National Flag of Canada,[1] also known as the Maple Leaf and l'Unifolié (French for

Wikipedia: The National Flag of Canada,[1] also known as the Maple Leaf and l’Unifolié (French for “the one-leafed”), is a flag consisting of a red field with a white square at its centre, in the middle of which is featured a stylized, 11-pointed, red maple leaf. Adopted in 1965 to replace the Union Flag, it is the first ever specified by statute law for use as the country’s national flag. The Canadian Red Ensign had been unofficially used since the 1890s and was approved by a 1945 Order in Council for use “wherever place or occasion may make it desirable to fly a distinctive Canadian flag”

New Zealand contemplates changing her flag, with a referendum on the action pending, probably in 2016.  What are they in for?  Will the debate in New Zealand be so bitter as Canada’s was?

At the BBC site, a few more details:

New Zealand is to hold a binding referendum in 2016 on whether to change the national flag.

The announcement by Prime Minister John Key of the referendum came after his government last month won a third term in a general election.

A panel of “respected New Zealanders” will lead the public discussion on potential designs for a new flag.

Mr Key has previously said he would like to see a new flag featuring a silver fern, on a black background.

That would be similar to the banner already used by many New Zealand teams such as the All Blacks national rugby union team.

“I believe that this is the right time for New Zealanders to consider changing the [flag’s] design to one that better reflects our status as a modern, independent nation,” Mr Key said.

Photo illustrating the BBC story, showing the silver fern flag of the New Zealand All Blacks football club -- Getty Images

Photo illustrating the BBC story, showing the silver fern flag of the New Zealand All Blacks football club — Getty Images

A fern leaf.  Hey, that’s rather like Canada’s switch from the mostly-red flag with a Union Jack to a maple leaf.  Canada’s been happy with that flag for more than 50 years, now.  Right?

Wait. Canadian Prime Minister Harper wants to change the maple leaf now?

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper surprised media this morning by unveiling a “new-look” Canadian flag in red, white, and blue that “just by fluke” matches the colours of the Conservative Party’s logo.

“I was doodling with my magic markers a while back and it just came to me out of the blue. Our flag needs some blue!” said Harper sporting a lapel pin with his proposed new flag design.

“Frankly, the boring old flag doesn’t reflect my new Canada…we needed something with more energy, something gutsier to better reflect my world leadership role.”

Harper’s doodle, cleaned up a bit:

A new flag for Canada, with blue added in?  And what a lovely shade of blue it is . . . why does it make us suspicious?

A new flag for Canada, with blue added in? Stephen Harper’s proposed new flag. And what a lovely shade of blue it is . . . why does it make us suspicious?

When a CBC reporter pointed out that Harper’s new flag colours are identical to the Conservative Party logo the PM said he was surprised by the question and hadn’t really noticed the similarity.

“Wow…I guess if you squint at our new flag you could maybe see some loose, loose likeness to my party’s logo colours.  But my new design really captures the new Canada…bold and not to be messed with.”

ConservativePartyLogoSmaller

“Proud Canadians will rally behind this new flag as a patriotic symbol of what Canada has become.”

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau reacted immediately telling the Ottawa Citizen, “I, like most Canadians, must now question the very sanity of Mr. Harper.  Has he gone nuts?  That’s a real and pressing question.  Has Mr. Harper’s ego finally won the sweaty arm-wrestling match that goes on in his brain.”

“The NDP has been calling loudly for increased spending on mental health care and Mr. Harper just proved the need,” said opposition leader Tom Mulcair.

[Well, no, not really.  Notice that the source of the Canadian flag proposal is The Lapine, Canada’s most successful on-line satirical news site — the Onion of the Frozen North.  Yes, I got suckered in, until I read the entire article; if it makes you shake your head, be suspicious, even if it doesn’t trigger your Hemingway™ Shit Detector. New Zealand is serious, though.]

Flag wars ahead!  Social studies teachers, you should tee this up so your students can enjoy the popcorn.

Good thing the U.S. had Betsy Ross around to tell the rebels what the flag would be, eh?*

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Thanksgiving 2014 – Fly your flag today!

November 26, 2014

Mt. Timpanogos and the U.S. flag. Photo by Bob Walker of Orem, Utah; from Orem, circa September 2012. That's Mt. Baldy on the left. This site is about six miles from our old home in Pleasant Grove, Utah.

Mt. Timpanogos and the U.S. flag. Photo by Bob Walker of Orem, Utah; from Orem, circa September 2012. That’s Mt. Baldy on the left. This site is about six miles from our old home in Pleasant Grove, Utah, where we celebrated a few dozen Thanksgivings.

Fly  your flag on Thanksgiving — it’s one of about a score of dates Congress designated specially to fly the flag, in the U.S. flag code.

Americans load up this particular holiday with significance, often for no particular reason.  As a holiday, it is really rather uniquely American.  There were feasts of thanksgiving from time to time throughout recorded history, but most often they were one-shot affairs, after a particular event.

In America, Americans eagerly seized on the idea of one day set aside “to give thanks,” both with the religious overtones some wanted to see, and with the commercial overtones others wanted, especially during the Great Depression.  In our 238th year since the Declaration of Independence, the 225th year since the Constitution was enacted, we come to Thanksgiving as a major period of travel to old family homesteads, to Thanksgiving as a period of genuine thanks to American troops fighting in foreign lands half a world away, and as a commercial celebration that sucks the sobriety and spirituality out of all but the most dedicated of profiteers, or bargain hunters.

Vintage Thanksgiving greeting card, from HubPages

In the early 20th century, some people sent greeting cards for Thanksgiving; this is a tradition overtaken by Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years cards, today. (Image from HubPages, unknown year — credit for cards, “Images courtesy VintageHolidayCrafts.com

Thanksgiving often stumbled into controversy.  George Washington issued proclamations calling for a day of thanks, but struck out all references to Christianity.  Some president’s issued similar proclamations up to the Civil War, When Abraham Lincoln used the holiday as a time to remind  Americans that they had a lot to be thankful for, partly as a means to keep Americans focused on the war to be won, and keep supporting troops in the field.  During the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt juggled dates for Thanksgiving, moving it earlier in November to create a longer Christmas shopping season, hoping to stimulate sales, and thereby push America further out of the Depression.

In 2001 George W. Bush urged Americans to go shopping so terrorists would know America was not defeated by the attack on the World Trade Center, knowing that a stimulus to the economy would help garner support for other policies.

Vintage thanksgiving card, Boy riding turkey with American flag, from HubPages, original date unknown

Children riding large turkeys, waving American flags, made popular images in several years of the early 20th century.

2012 saw controversy over Big Box stores and other major, national retailers pushing their post- Thanksgiving, Christmas sales, into Thanksgiving day itself.  Is this fair to employees?  Is this too much emphasis on purchasing, and too little emphasis on family and giving thanks?

In 2014, we have the same arguments about Big Box stores pushing “Black Friday” into the holiday, and even more arguments about Christmas creep reducing the importance of Thanksgiving to Americans.

You can be sure of one thing:  It’s probably safe to fly your American flag on Thanksgiving, as Congress suggested.  It won’t make your turkey more moist  or your pumpkin pie taste any better.  It won’t boost your sales, if you’re a retailer, nor find you a bargain, if you’re a shopper.

If you have the flag, it costs nothing.  Flying the flag makes no particular religious statement, supports no particular political party, supports no one’s favorite football team.  Flying the flag earns you nothing, usually.

But as a free act of patriotism, support for our nation, and our troops, and a demonstration that even after a divisive election, we’re all one nation, it’s a pretty good deal.

Fly your flag today.

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November dates for flag flying

November 14, 2014

Already in November we’ve passed two of the month’s dates for which we are urged to fly the U.S. flag, election day, the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November by law (flag dates including local elections on whatever date, especially at polling places), and Veterans Day, or Armistice Day, on November 11, commemorating the date set for the armistice of World War I.

What could be left?

According to the U.S. Flag Code, 4 USC 1, sec. 6, we should fly the flag on all national holidays, which includes Thanksgiving, though most patriots are busier with turkey baking, football and family that day.

Several states entered the union in November; citizens and residents of those states fly the U.S. flag on those statehood days.

Most states would hope you’d fly the state’s flag on its statehood day, too.  But how many people actually have a state flay for their own state?  (We have a Texas flag; Texas may be the most state-flag-flying state; we also have a Maryland flag, which used to make for great displays when we flew both flags at our Maryland home.)

At the Avenue of the Flags near the Mount Rushmore Memorial to four U.S. presidents, in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  There are displayed flags of all 50 states, plus territories, commonwealths and the federal district of the United Sates.

At the Avenue of the Flags near the Mount Rushmore Memorial to four U.S. presidents, in the Black Hills of South Dakota. There are displayed flags of all 50 states, plus territories, commonwealths and the federal district of the United Sates. Image from BlackHillsBadlands.com

This year you may have missed a few already:

  • North Dakota, November 2 (1889, the  39th or 40th state), the same day as
  • South Dakota, November 2 (1889, the  39th or 40th state)
  • Montana, November 8 (1889, the 41st state)
  • Washington, November 11 (1889, the 42nd state) (but, hey, you were already flying your flag, right, Washingtonians?)

You can still catch two states’ statehood days:

  • Oklahoma, November 16 (1907, the 46th state)
  • North Carolina, November 21 (1789, the 12th state)

Veterans Day 2014 – Fly your flag today

November 11, 2014

Veterans Day in the U.S. falls on November 11, the date of the armistice that ended hostilities in World War I.  Under the U.S. flag code, and specific presidential proclamations, it is one of those days U.S. residents get called to fly their flags.

Veterans Day poster for 2014, from the U.S. Veterans Administration

Veterans Day poster for 2014, from the U.S. Veterans Administration

President Barack Obama issues a proclamation on Veterans Day every year.

Presidential Proclamation — Veterans Day, 2014

VETERANS DAY, 2014
– – – – – – -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

Since the birth of our Nation, American patriots have stepped forward to serve our country and defend our way of life.  With honor and distinction, generations of servicemen and women have taken up arms to win our independence, preserve our Union, and secure our freedom.  From the Minutemen to our Post-9/11 Generation, these heroes have put their lives on the line so that we might live in a world that is safer, freer, and more just, and we owe them a profound debt of gratitude.  On Veterans Day, we salute the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who have rendered the highest service any American can offer, and we rededicate ourselves to fulfilling our commitment to all those who serve in our name.

Today, we are reminded of our solemn obligation:  to serve our veterans as well as they have served us.  As we continue our responsible drawdown from the war in Afghanistan and more members of our military return to civilian life, we must support their transition and make sure they have access to the resources and benefits they have earned.  My Administration is working to end the tragedy of homelessness among our veterans, and we are committed to providing them with quality health care, access to education, and the tools they need to find a rewarding career.  As a Nation, we must ensure that every veteran has the chance to share in the opportunity he or she has helped to defend.  Those who have served in our Armed Forces have the experience, skills, and dedication necessary to achieve success as members of our civilian workforce, and it is critical that we harness their talent.

Across our country, veterans who fought to protect our democracy around the globe are strengthening it here at home. Once leaders in the Armed Forces, they are now pioneers of industry and pillars of their communities.  Their character reflects our enduring American spirit, and in their example, we find inspiration and strength.

This day, and every day, we pay tribute to America’s sons and daughters who have answered our country’s call.  We recognize the sacrifice of those who have been part of the finest fighting force the world has ever known and the loved ones who stand beside them.  We will never forget the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice and all those who have not yet returned home.  As a grateful Nation, let us show our appreciation by honoring all our veterans and working to ensure the promise of America is within the reach of all who have protected it.

With respect for and in recognition of the contributions our service members have made to the cause of peace and freedom around the world, the Congress has provided (5 U.S.C. 6103(a)) that November 11 of each year shall be set aside as a legal public holiday to honor our Nation’s veterans.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim November 11, 2014, as Veterans Day.  I encourage all Americans to recognize the valor and sacrifice of our veterans through appropriate public ceremonies and private prayers.  I call upon Federal, State, and local officials to display the flag of the United States and to participate in patriotic activities in their communities. I call on all Americans, including civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, and communities to support this day with commemorative expressions and programs.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventh day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.

BARACK OBAMA

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Navy Day 2014, October 27 – Fly your flag today

October 27, 2014

1945 Navy Day poster. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 72280-KN (Color) via CrashMacDuff

1945 Navy Day poster. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 72280-KN (Color) via CrashMacDuff

Navy Day, October 27, is designated in the U.S. Flag Code as one of those days Americans may, or should, fly our flags.

History of Navy Day from the U.S. Department of Defense:

Navy Day was established on October 27, 1922 by the Navy League of the United States. Although it was not a national holiday, Navy Day received special attention from President Warren Harding. Harding wrote to the Secretary of the Navy Edwin Denby:

“Thank you for your note which brings assurance of the notable success which seems certain to attend the celebration of Navy Day on Friday, October 27, in commemoration of past and present services of the Navy. From our earliest national beginnings the Navy has always been, and deserved to be, an object of special pride to the American people. Its record is indeed one to inspire such sentiments, and I am very sure that such a commemoration as is planned will be a timely reminder.”

“It is well for us to have in mind that under a program of lessening naval armaments there is a greater reason for maintaining the highest efficiency, fitness and morale in this branch of the national defensive service. I know how earnestly the Navy personnel are devoted to this idea and want you to be assured of my hearty concurrence.”

October 27 was suggested by the Navy League to recognize Theodore Roosevelt’s birthday. Roosevelt had been an Assistant Secretary of the Navy and supported a strong Navy as well as the idea of Navy Day. In addition, October 27 was the anniversary of a 1775 report issued by a special committee of the Continental Congress favoring the purchase of merchant ships as the foundation of an American Navy.

Navy Day was last observed on Oct. 27, 1949.

But, of course, it’s still designated in the Flag Code.

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