May 2016, flag-flying dates

May 4, 2016

Childe Hassam,

Childe Hassam, “Victory Day, May 1919,” 1919, oil on canvas, 36 x 21 3/4 inches (91.4 x 55.2 cm), American Academy of Arts and Letters, NY. There were at least twenty-three paintings in Hassam’s series of flag paintings. This Victory Day celebration no longer occurs, though there are several other May days to fly the colors.

May has three days designated for flying the U.S. flag out of the specific days mentioned in the U.S. Flag Code, three days designated in other federal laws,  and three statehood days, when residents of those states should fly their flags.

Interestingly, the three designated days all float, from year to year:

  • Mother’s Day, second Sunday in May (May 8, in 2016)
  • Armed Forces Day, third Saturday in May (May 21)
  • Memorial Day, the last Monday in May (May 29)

Residents of these states celebrate statehood; South Carolina and Wisconsin share May 23:

  • Minnesota, May 11 (1858, the 32nd state)
  • South Carolina, May 23 (1788, the 8th state)
  • Wisconsin, May 23 (1848, the 30th state)
  • Rhode Island, May 29 (1790, the last of the 13 original colonies to ratify the Constitution)

This year President Obama issued a proclamation calling on citizens to fly the flag on May 1, Law Day (I missed that one). It’s also Loyalty Day, which got a proclamation from President Obama calling for flag flying in 2016 (missed that one, too).

May 8 marks the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, the day the Axis Powers in Europe surrendered at the end of World War II.  Some years that day is marked by a proclamation calling for flag flying.  (You may fly your flag then even if Congress and the President do nothing.)

In recent years President Obama has proclaimed May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day, with flags to fly at half-staff. We might expect another such declaration in 2016.

May 22 is National Maritime Day, under a Joint Resolution from Congress from 1933. President Obama may be expected to proclaim that day as a day to fly the flag, too.

Gee, twelve events on fourteen days to fly the U.S. flag.  May could be quite busy for flag fliers.

  1. Law Day, May 1
  2. Loyalty Day, May 1
  3. Victory in Europe Day, May 8
  4. Mothers Day, May 8
  5. Minnesota Statehood, May 11
  6. Peace Officers Memorial Day, May 15 (half-staff flags; the law for Police Week calls for flags to be half-staff the entire week in which May 15 occurs, May 15-20 in 2016)
  7. Armed Forces Day, May 16
  8. National Maritime Day, May 22
  9. South Carolina Statehood, May 23, AND
  10. Wisconsin Statehood, May 23
  11. Memorial Day, May 25
  12. Rhode Island Statehood, May 29
Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience, and repetition.


Presidents’ Day 2016: Fly your flag today

February 15, 2016

It’s Presidents’ Day on most calendars, though the official U.S. holiday is “Washington’s Birthday.”

Presidents’ Day, or Washington’s Birthday, is celebrated on the third Monday in February. In 2016 this will overlap the period of mourning for Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.  President Barack Obama ordered flags to be flown half staff to honor Justice Scalia; if your flag pole allows, you should fly your flag at half staff, even on Washington’s Birthday.

You’re already flying your flag today, right?  Let’s recapitulate from last year.

Dr. Bumsted reminds us we need to emphasize that the federal holiday is Washington’s Birthday, not a day to honor presidents generically.  See the explanation from the U.S. National Archives.

Presidents Day is February 15, 2016 — fly your U.S. flag today.

National Park Service photo, Lincoln Memorial through flags at Washington Monument

The Lincoln Memorial, seen through flags posted at the Washington Monument, Washington, D.C.; National Park Service Photo via About.com

Oddly enough, some controversy arises from time to time over how to honor President Washington and President Lincoln, and other presidents.  Sometimes the controversy simmers over how to honor great Americans — if Lincoln deserves a day, why not FDR?  Why not Jefferson? — and sometimes the controversy covers more mundane ground — should the federal government give workers a day off?  Should it be on a Monday or Friday to create a three-day weekend to boost tourism?  About.com explains the history of the controversy:

Presidents’ Day is intended (for some) to honor all the American presidents, but most significantly George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. According to the Gregorian or “New Style” calendar that is most commonly used today, George Washington was born on February 22, 1732. But according to the Julian or “Old Style” calendar that was used in England until 1752, his birth date was February 11th. Back in the 1790s, Americans were split – some celebrated his birthday on February 11th and some on February 22nd.

When Abraham Lincoln became president and helped reshape our country, it was believed he, too, should have a special day of recognition. Tricky thing was that Lincoln’s birthday fell on February 12th. Prior to 1968, having two presidential birthdays so close together didn’t seem to bother anyone. February 22nd was observed as a federal public holiday to honor the birthday of George Washington and February 12th was observed as a public holiday to honor Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.

In 1968, things changed when the 90th Congress was determined to create a uniform system of federal Monday holidays. They voted to shift three existing holidays (including Washington’s Birthday) to Mondays. The law took effect in 1971, and as a result, Washington’s Birthday holiday was changed to the third Monday in February. But not all Americans were happy with the new law. There was some concern that Washington’s identity would be lost since the third Monday in February would never fall on his actual birthday. There was also an attempt to rename the public holiday “Presidents’ Day”, but the idea didn’t go anywhere since some believed not all presidents deserved a special recognition. [Take THAT you Franklin Pierce and Millard Fillmore fans!]

Even though Congress had created a uniform federal holiday law, there was not a uniform holiday title agreement among the individual states. Some states, like California, Idaho, Tennessee and Texas chose not to retain the federal holiday title and renamed their state holiday “President’s Day.” From that point forward, the term “Presidents’ Day” became a marketing phenomenon, as advertisers sought to capitalize on the opportunity for three-day or week-long sales.

In 1999, bills were introduced in both the U.S. House (HR-1363) and Senate (S-978) to specify that the legal public holiday once referred to as Washington’s Birthday be “officially” called by that name once again. Both bills died in committees.

Today, President’s Day is well accepted and celebrated. Some communities still observe the original holidays of Washington and Lincoln, and many parks actually stage reenactments and pageants in their honor. The National Park Service also features a number of historic sites and memorials to honor the lives of these two presidents, as well as other important leaders.

Fly your flag, read some history, enjoy the day.

More, Resources, and Related Articles:

English: Air Force One, the typical air transp...

President’s airplane, Air Force 1, flying over Mount Rushmore National Monument, in South Dakota – Image via Wikipedia; notice, contrary to Tea Party fears, the bust of Obama is not yet up on Rushmore (and also note there remains no room for another bust).

Yes, this is mostly an encore post.  This event occurs every year.


Flags at half-staff to honor Justice Antonin Scalia

February 15, 2016

U.S. Flag flew at half staff outside the Supreme Court on Sunday, February 14, 2016, in honor of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, who died February 13.

U.S. Flag flew at half staff outside the Supreme Court on Sunday, February 14, 2016, in honor of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, who died February 13. VOA image.

President Barack Obama ordered flags to be flown half-staff to honor Justice Antonin Scalia, who died February 13.  The half staff honor continues through the end of the day on which Justice Scalia is interred.

The order from the White House:

Presidential Proclamation: Death of Antonin Scalia

As a mark of respect for Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice of the United States, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, including section 7 of title 4, United States Code, that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and on all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, on the day of interment.  I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same period at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirteenth day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.

BARACK OBAMA

# # #

The mourning period in which flags are to be flown half staff probably will include Presidents Day, February 15. Flags flown in honor of Presidents Day 2016 should be flown half staff. Where flags cannot be lowered, fly the flag as it is normally displayed.


February 6, Massachusetts Statehood Day

February 6, 2016

Flag etiquette guides and the U.S. Flag Code urge residents of Massachusetts to fly U.S. flags today, to honor Massachusetts’s joining the Union.

U.S. flag flies at Quincy Market in Boston (a 4th of July celebration is pictured) - WHDH Channel 7 image

U.S. flag flies at Quincy Market in Boston (a 4th of July celebration is pictured) – WHDH Channel 7 image

Massachusetts’s statehood is figured as the date the colony ratified the U.S. Constitution. A convention ratified the document on February 6, 1788. Massachusetts was the 6th colony to ratify.

The next flag-flying date is February 12, in honor of Lincoln’s birthday.


Fly your flag January 18, 2016, to honor Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 18, 2016

As on every federal holiday, citizens and residents of the U.S. should fly their U.S. flags today, on the holiday marking the birth of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Rev. King, and the U.S. flag

Rev. King and the U.S. flag. (No information on place or time of photo; please feel free to lend light and facts.)

Fly the U.S. flag today for the holiday for the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.  The holiday is celebrated on the third Monday in January.

Many Americans will celebrate with a day of service.

More:

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post for an annual event. Fighting ignorance requires patience.


Connecticut flies U.S. flags for statehood, January 9

January 9, 2016

Technically, states didn’t exist at all, yet.

But on January 9, 1788, Connecticut became the fifth of the 13 colonies to ratify the proposed Constitution for the United States of America, and by that action set the date we count as Connecticut’s entery into the union.

Within 12 months, four more colonies ratified the document, totaling nine ratifications required to put the Constitution into effect.  When the government of the new nation started functioning in 1789, Connecticut was counted as the fifth state.

Connecticut capitol building, Hartford

Capitol building for Connecticut in Hartford; this photo is from the rear of the building, so the U.S. flag is flying correctly on its own right. The building was completed in 1878. The dome is covered in gold. Image from Wikimedia Commons

To avoid political scheming by anti-federalist colony governors, especially Patrick Henry in Virginia, in September 1787 James Madison proposed that the draft constitution be ratified not by legislatures in the colonies, but instead by a specially-called convention of the people of the colony.  Connecticut’s convention met first on January 3, 1788. With six days of discussion and debate, the convention passed a resolution of ratification on January 9.

So by tradition, January 9 is Connecticut’s statehood anniversary.  According to U.S. law, the Flag Code and tradition, citizens and residents of a state fly their flags on statehood anniversaries.

Happy birthday Connecticut, 228 years old.

Next date to fly the U.S. flag is January 18, 2016, to honor the birth of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. January 18 is the official holiday; January 19 is the actual birthday. You may fly your colors on both dates.

More:

Carol Highsmith photo of Connecticut's Hall of Flags

Hall of Flags in the Connecticut State Capitol Building; photo by the great photo-historian Carol Highsmith, from the Library of Congress collection; the statue is Connecticut’s Civil War Governor, William A. Buckingham (1804-1875), honored for his personal contributions to the equipping of Connecticut’s men fighting in the Civil War;.


Utah at 120: Fly colors for Utah statehood, January 4, 1896

January 4, 2016

Utah Capitol, with flags

South entrance (main) to the Utah State Capitol, with U.S. and Utah flags flying on the single flag poll, and the snow-dusted Wasatch Mountains in the background. Utah State Law Library photo.

Utah joined the Union on January 4, 1896.  It had been a 49-year slog to statehood for Deseret, the Mormon settlement in the Desert.  The size had been pared down, so it would not be the biggest state, incorporating parts of what is now Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado and New Mexico.  New capitals had been tried and cast aside (Fillmore, Utah).  Democratic Party rule was broken when LDS church authorities went door-to-door, calling every other family to the Republican Party, and party parity.  The Mormon Church abandoned polygamy, and adopted a state constitution that gave the vote to women.

Finally, Utah became the 45th state.

You may fly your U.S. flag today for Utah statehood, especially if you’re in Utah.

Happy birthday, Utah!  120 years old today.

Next federal flag-flying date: January 6, in honor of New Mexico’s statehood.

More:

U.S. flag in Capitol Reef NP

U.S. flag flying at Capitol Reef National Park, in Utah. Photo by longyang0369, via Flickr

Much of this material appeared here before; this is an annual event, after all.


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