Can we fly the U.S. flag in March?

March 27, 2017

U.S. flag displayed by horse-mounted marchers in a San Francisco St. Patrick's Day Parade (perhaps 2014); image from United Irish Societies of San Francisco (UISSF).

U.S. flag displayed by horse-mounted marchers in a San Francisco St. Patrick’s Day Parade (perhaps 2014); image from United Irish Societies of San Francisco (UISSF).

I usually put up a post near the first of the month listing the occasions upon which U.S. laws urge us to fly Old Glory. March usually slips by without such  post.

No good reason, other than in most years, March offers no regular commemorations upon which flag flying is urged. The odd year is when Easter comes early. Easter is one of the holidays the Flag Code says flags should be flown.

But, most years, Easter falls in April, as it does in 2017.

The Flag Code urges residents of states to fly the U.S. flag on the anniversary of their state’s entering the union, on statehood day. Those are the only dates in March, most years.

Flag fly dates, for March (already past, in 2017):

  • March 1, Ohio statehood (1803, 17th state)
  • March 1, Nebraska statehood (1867, 37th state)
  • March 3, Florida (1845, 27th state)
  • March 4, Vermont statehood (1791, 14th state)
  • March 15, Maine statehood (1820, 23rd state)

A lot of St. Patrick’s Day revelers and parade marchers display the flag, but it’s not an official U.S. observance. I keep hoping, but I get little traction for a law urging flying the flag to observe Freedom Day, on the birth anniversary of the Father of the Constitution, James Madison.

People gathered on the lawn of James Madison's home in Montpelier, Virginia, to display the U.S. flag in a card display, 2011.  AP photo?

People gathered on the lawn of James Madison’s home in Montpelier, Virginia, to display the U.S. flag in a card display, 2011. AP photo?

Much irony, and great history, in the U.S. colors being shown so dramatically on St. Patrick’s Day, a day relatively uncommemorated in Ireland, and commemorated in the U.S. chiefly to help overcome bias against Irish immigrants.

I’ll try to keep up better, next year.

Sure, you may fly the U.S. flag every day in March. You need not wait for sanction from a Presidential Proclamation or a Congressional Resolution. You may fly the flag every day. (Just follow flag etiquette when you do.)

U.S. colors led the St. Patrick's Day parade in Seattle, Washington, in 2014. Photo from IrishClub.org

U.S. colors led the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Seattle, Washington, in 2014. Photo from IrishClub.org

U.S. colors stood out in a field of green at the St. Paul, Minnesota, St. Patrick's Day parade, 2015(?). Photo from VisitStPaul.com.

U.S. colors stood out in a field of green at the St. Paul, Minnesota, St. Patrick’s Day parade, 2015(?). Photo from VisitStPaul.com.

Members of the Yorktown Irish Pipes and Drums Corps march in the 35th annual Northern Westchester-Putnam St. Patrick Day Parade, in Mahopac, New York, 2011. Photo by Seth Harrison

U.S. flag displayed as members of the Yorktown Irish Pipes and Drums Corps march in the 35th annual Northern Westchester-Putnam St. Patrick Day Parade, in Mahopac, New York, 2011. Photo by Seth Harrison


January 9, 2017 – Connecticut flies U.S. flags for statehood

January 9, 2017

Carol Highsmith photo of Connecticut's Hall of Flags

Love this photo: 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.

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 16, 2016, to honor the birth of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. January 16 is the official holiday; January 19 is the actual birthday. You may fly your colors on both dates.

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Utah flies U.S. flags on January 4 for statehood: 121 years in 2017 – old enough to drink

January 4, 2017

U.S. flag flying in front of the Utah State Capitol. Utah State Capitol image.

U.S. flag flying in front of the Utah State Capitol. Utah State Capitol image.

U.S. flags fly in Utah today in honor of Utah statehood. It’s also the day that new, elected state officers take their oaths and take their offices. Utah is 121 years in the union — as a state, it’s old enough to drink, though you may have difficulty finding a drink there among the teetotaling Mormons.

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!  121 years old today.

Big dance in Fillmore to celebrate, Saturday:

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

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One of my favorite Utah photos: U.S. flag at the south end of Mount Timpanogos; photo from Orem, Utah, by Bob Walker.

One of my favorite Utah photos: U.S. flag at the south end of Mount Timpanogos; photo from Orem, Utah, by Bob Walker.

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

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

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58 years ago, January 3, 1959: Welcome, Alaska, and the 49-star flag

January 3, 2017

Alaska Territorial Gov. Bob Bartlett in center, with the 49-star flag (Bartlett was one of Alaska's first U.S. senators).

Alaska Territorial Gov. Bob Bartlett in center, with the 49-star flag (Bartlett was one of Alaska’s first U.S. senators).

The great service at the New York Times site, the Learning Network, notes the 1959 Dwight Eisenhower proclamation of Alaska as the 49th state, and the unveiling of the 49-star flag:

On Jan. 3, 1959, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a proclamation admitting Alaska to the Union as the 49th state. The New York Times noted that the signing included the unveiling of the new 49-star American flag.

The land that became Alaska came into U.S. possession in 1867, when William Seward, secretary of state under President Andrew Johnson, negotiated a deal to buy the 586,000-square-mile area from Russia for $7.2 million, less than 2 cents per acre. Seward’s decision was ridiculed in the American press, who saw no potential in the vast, inhospitable and sparsely populated area.

For decades after its purchase, Alaska was derided as “Seward’s folly” or “Seward’s icebox.” This opinion changed in 1896 with the discovery of gold in the neighboring Yukon Territory, which spurred tens of thousands of people to head to Alaska in search of gold. The gold rush also brought about a boom in mining, fishing and trapping.

Though the first statehood bill had been presented to Congress in 1916, there was little desire in either Alaska or Washington for Alaskan statehood until after World War II. During the war, the U.S. established multiple military bases to resist Japan’s attacks on Alaska’s Aleutian Islands and prevent a potential invasion of the mainland. The military activity, along with the completion of a major highway from Montana, led to a large population growth.

In 1946, Alaskans voted in favor of statehood in a referendum and Alaskan delegates began to lobby Congress for statehood. After years of debate, Congress voted in June 1958 to admit Alaska.

Eight months after Alaska’s admission, on Aug. 21, 1957 [should be 1959, no?], Hawaii became the 50th state. The 49-star remained in place until the following July 4, when it was replaced by the now-familiar 50-star flag.

49-star flags were produced only until August 1959, so there are few of them around.  I love this photo of the unveiling of the flag with President Eisenhower:

President Eisenhower and Quartermaster General MG Andrew T. McNamara, with 49-star flag - image from QM foundation

“Quartermaster General MG Andrew T. McNamara and President Eisenhower examine new 49 star flag” – image and caption from the Quartermaster Foundation. Photo by Bob Schutz, Associated Press (Who are the other two people?  The guy on the right looks to me a bit like is Pennsylvania’s Sen. Hugh Scott.)

It had been about 47 years since the previous state admission (Arizona); people became aware that no law set what the flag should look like.  President Eisenhower issued a directive.

How did the nation survive for 170 years without firm, decisive and conclusive orders on what the U.S. flag should look like?  Isn’t it a great story that we went so long without law setting the requirements?

Alaska's state flag design came from 13-year old Benny Benson.

Alaska’s state flag design came from 13-year old Benny Benson. Benny Benson holding the Alaska flag at the Jesse Lee Home, Seward, Alaska. ASL-P01-1921, Alaska State Library-Historical Collections.

 

Alaska’s state flag came from the imagination of a 13-year-old Aleut, Benny Benson, winning a contest to design the state’s flag.  Alaska’s flag stands out in any display of U.S. state flags.

Alaska's flag as it was approved by the state legislature, and still flies today. Image from the Ninilchik Natives Association, Inc (NNAI).

Alaska’s flag as it was approved by the state legislature, and still flies today. Image from the Ninilchik Natives Association, Inc (NNAI).

 

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

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

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Will you fly your U.S. flags in January 2017?

January 3, 2017

“Raising the first American flag, Somerville, Mass., January 1, 1776.” Harper’s Weekly painting by Clyde Osmer DeLand, 1897. From the digital collections of the New York Public Library

January is loaded with flag flying dates, when we add in statehood days, dates those states are invited to fly their U.S. flags.

In January 2017, the U.S. Flag Code urges citizens to fly flags on these dates, listed chronologically:

  • New Year’s Day, January 1, a federal holiday
  • January 2, Georgia Statehood Day
  • January 3, Alaska Statehood Day
  • January 4, Utah Statehood Day
  • January 6, New Mexico Statehood Day
  • January 9, Connecticut Statehood Day
  • Martin Luther King’s Birthday, a federal holiday on the third Monday of January; that date is January 16, in 2017; King’s actual birthday is January 15, and you may fly your flag then, too
  • Inauguration Day, January 20, the year after election years, as 2017 is
  • January 26, Michigan Statehood Day
  • January 29, Kansas Statehood Day

You may fly your flag any other day you wish, too; flags should not be flown after sundown unless they are specially lighted, or at one of the few places designated by Congress or Presidential Proclamation for 24-hour flag flying.  According to Wikipedia’s listing, those sites include:

  • Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Maryland (Presidential Proclamation No. 2795, July 2, 1948).
  • Flag House Square, Albemarle and Pratt Streets, Baltimore, Maryland (Public Law 83-319, approved March 26, 1954).
  • Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima Memorial), Arlington, Virginia (Presidential Proclamation No. 3418, June 12, 1961).
  • Lexington Battle Green, Lexington, Massachusetts (Public Law 89-335, approved November 8, 1965).
  • White House, Washington, D.C. (Presidential Proclamation No. 4000, September 4, 1970).
  • Washington Monument, Washington, D.C. (Presidential Proclamation No. 4064, July 6, 1971, effective July 4, 1971).
  • Any port of entry to the United States which is continuously open (Presidential Proclamation No. 413 1, May 5, 1972).
  • Grounds of the National Memorial Arch in Valley Forge State Park, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania (Public Law 94-53, approved July 4, 1975).
Flag House in 1936, 844 East Pratt & Albemarle Streets (Baltimore, Independent City, Maryland) (cropped). Image courtesy of the federal HABS—Historic American Buildings Survey of Maryland.

Flag House in 1936, where Mary Pickersgill sewed the garrison-sized, 15-star flag that flew over Fort McHenry at the Battle of Baltimore in 1814; one of the sites where the U.S. flag may be flown 24 hours. The house is at 844 East Pratt & Albemarle Streets (Baltimore, Independent City, Maryland). Cropped image courtesy of the federal HABS—Historic American Buildings Survey of Maryland.

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

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

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Texans fly U.S. flags today in honor of Texas statehood

December 29, 2016

First class postage stamp showing U.S. and Texas flags together, issued for the Texas Statehood Centennial, in 1945. Yes, first class postage was three cents. Wikipedia image.

First class postage stamp showing U.S. and Texas flags together, issued for the Texas Statehood Centennial, in 1945. Yes, first class postage was three cents. Wikipedia image.

Congress approved Texas’s petition to join the union on December 29, 1845. Texas joined the United States of America 171 years ago today.

KWTX Channel 10 News described the process in 1845:

On December 29, 1845—171 years ago today—the U.S. Congress voted to annex Texas, eight years after statehood was first proposed. In June 1845 the Texas Congress voted in favor of annexation and on July 4, 1845, a convention of elected delegates followed suit. A popular vote in October ratified the document, which the U.S. Congress accepted on December 29, 1845, making Texas the 28th state. Texas President Anson Jones handed over control of the new state government to Gov. James Pinckney Henderson on February 19, 1846.

Engraving of Texas President Anson Jones lowering the flag of the Republic of Texas, to be replaced with the flag of the United States, on December 29, 1845, after Congress accepted the annexation of Texas into the Union. Texas State Library image.

Engraving of Texas President Anson Jones lowering the flag of the Republic of Texas, to be replaced with the flag of the United States, on December 29, 1845, after Congress accepted the annexation of Texas into the Union. Texas State Library image.

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Iowa entered the union on December 28, 1846; fly your flags, Hawkeyes!

December 28, 2016

Iowans may fly their flags today in celebration of the anniversary of Iowa statehood.  Iowa’s admission to the Union came on December 28, 1846; Iowa was the 29th state admitted.

“Millions of acres. Iowa and Nebraska. Land for sale on 10 years credit by the Burlington & Missouri River R. R. Co. at 6 per ct interest and low prices.” Poster advertising land in Iowa, circa 1872, from the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad Co. – Library of Congress Printed Ephemera Collection; Portfolio 134, Folder 13; via Wikipedia

The Flag Code, 4 USC §6 (d), notes that the U.S. flag may be flown on “the birthdays of States (date of admission),” in addition to the other score of dates specifically written into law.

Stars and Stripes were impossible to miss at University of Iowa's Kinnick Stadium in November 2014. Photos by Tim Schoon.

Sometimes we excuse parts of the Flag Code if the display otherwise stirs great patriotism. Stars and Stripes were impossible to miss at University of Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium in November 2014. Photos by Tim Schoon.

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

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

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