Armed Forces Day 2017, May 20 – Fly your flag

May 20, 2017

New meaning to

New meaning to “flying the flag”: (Wikipedia caption) A pair of specially painted F-117 Nighthawks fly off from their last refueling by the Ohio National Guard’s 121st Air Refueling Wing. The F-117s were retired March 11 [2008] in a farewell ceremony at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Kim Frey

Armed Forces Day is the third Saturday in May. This year it falls on May 20.

The U.S. Flag Code designates Armed Forces Day as one day for all Americans to fly their flags, in honor of those men and women presently serving in any of the Armed Forces.

Activities to honor active duty and active reserve forces occur in hundreds of communities across the nation.  Check your local papers.

Remember to fly your flag.

A bit of history, as we’ve noted earlier:  After President Truman’s administration brought the management of the armed forces under the umbrella of one agency, the Department of Defense, Truman moved also to unite what had been a separate day of honor for each of the branches of the military, into one week capped by one day for all uniformed defense services.

On August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy and Air Force Days. The single-day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under one department — the Department of Defense. Each of the military leagues and orders was asked to drop sponsorship of its specific service day in order to celebrate the newly announced Armed Forces Day. The Army, Navy and Air Force leagues adopted the newly formed day. The Marine Corps League declined to drop support for Marine Corps Day but supports Armed Forces Day, too.

In a speech announcing the formation of the day, President Truman “praised the work of the military services at home and across the seas” and said, “it is vital to the security of the nation and to the establishment of a desirable peace.” In an excerpt from the Presidential Proclamation of Feb. 27, 1950, Mr. Truman stated:

Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 20, 1950, marks the first combined demonstration by America’s defense team of its progress, under the National Security Act, towards the goal of readiness for any eventuality. It is the first parade of preparedness by the unified forces of our land, sea, and air defense.

Celebrations like Armed Forces Day offer good opportunities to promote history. I suspect that the day’s coming always in the middle of May suppresses some of the teaching moment value, as teachers make a final push for end of course tests, finals, and in high schools, for graduation — and as many colleges are already out for the summer. Good materials are available that can be sprinkled throughout a course.

Photograph of President Truman and other digni...

President Truman and other dignitaries on the reviewing stand during an Armed Forces Day parade, (left… – NARA – 200222 (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (Is that Eisenhower on the left?) (Update: Yep! From Wikimedia: Left to right, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson, President Truman, Adm. William Leahy.

For example, this list of world-wide events at the first Armed Forces Day, in 1950, gives a good picture of four years into the Cold War, and would make a good warm-up exercise or even an entire lesson, or offer opportunities for projects:

The first Armed Forces Day came at a time of increased world tensions, political volatility and communist aggression. Some notable events that marked America’s first Armed Forces Week were as follows:

  • Bolivian police broke up “alleged” revolutionary communist-led general strike in LaPaz.
  • Two U. S. government buildings in Canton, China were taken over by the Chinese Communist Government. The buildings were U. S. property acquired prior to the Communist takeover.
  • The Burmese Army recaptured the city of Prome, a strategic communist-rebel stronghold.
  • Nicaraguans elect General Anastasio Somoza to a regular six-year term as president.
  • French and West German governments expected to talk shortly on the merger of the coal and steel industries of the two countries.
  • Communist China lifted the ban on daylight shipping along the Yangtze River due to the decline of Nationalist air activity.
  • Norway receives first US military aid in the form of two Dakota planes.
  • U. N. Secretary General Trygive Lie seeks West’s acceptance of Red China in the U. N.
  • Iran announced close range news broadcasts to the Soviet Union with $56,000 worth of Voice of America equipment.
  • Cuba celebrated the 48th anniversary of the establishment of its republic.
  • The Red Cross celebrated its 69th birthday.
  • Britain ended rationing of all foods except meats, butter, margarine, and cooking fat.
  • The U. S. Congress voted to extend the draft. “A Bill to extend registration and classification for the Draft until June 24, 1952 passed the House 216-11.”
  • The Allied Command announced it would “ease” the burden of occupation on Austria and would name civilian high commissioners to replace present military high commissioners.
  • Soviet authorities in Berlin withdrew travel passes of the U.S. and British military missions stationed at Potsdam in the Soviet zone of occupation.
  • The Soviets returned 23 East German industrial plants to East German authorities. The plants had been producing exclusively for the benefit of reparations to the USSR.
  • Twenty-eight Soviet vessels, consisting of tugs, trawlers, and supply ships remained in the English Channel as the Western Alliance prepared for air and naval maneuvers. Observers noted that many of them carried rollers at their sterns for trawling nets although no nets were visible.
  • Pravda denounced Armed Forces Day, calling it the militarization of the United States. “The hysterical speeches of the warmongers again show the timeliness of the appeal of the Permanent Committee of Peace Partisans that atomic weapons be forbidden.”
  • Western Powers renewed their promise to help Mid-Eastern states resist communism. They also announced an agreement to sell arms to Israel as well as to the Arabs.

Veterans Day honors veterans of wars, and those who served in the past; Memorial Day honors people who died defending the nation; Armed Forces Day honors those men and women serving today.  Service with two wars, in an “all volunteer” military, is a rough go, especially in times of federal budget cuts.  Say a good word about active duty military on Saturday, will you?

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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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Getting ready for Memorial Day, where it counts

May 19, 2017

From the Andersonville National Historic Site Twitter account: Our Avenue of Flags went up today in celebration of Memorial Day! You can view these rows of American flags in the cemetery until May 31.

From the Andersonville National Historic Site Twitter account: Our Avenue of Flags went up today in celebration of Memorial Day! You can view these rows of American flags in the cemetery until May 31.

The Andersonville NHS is in Andersonville, Georgia. Memorial Day grew greatly after the U.S. Civil War, as people worked to commemorate those who died in the war, on both sides. Andersonville contributed many of those deaths.

Memorial Day is Monday, May 28, in 2017, a day for all Americans to fly the U.S. flag.

A view from the cemetery at Andersonville NHS. NPS photo.

A view from the cemetery at Andersonville NHS. NPS photo.

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Get ready to fly your flag for Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 20, 2017

May 18, 2017

Armed Forces Day poster for 2017, from the Department of Defense

Armed Forces Day poster for 2017, from the Department of Defense

Americans celebrate Armed Forces Day on the third Saturday in May, by law as listed in the Flag Code.

Get your flag ready, if you haven’t been flying it all week to honor fallen police. Saturday is also the last day of National Police Week, during which flags are flown half-staff to honor fallen policemen. You may fly your flag half-staff on Saturday, too, if you wish; if your flag pole does not allow a half-staff position, fly it at full height.

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Fly your flags May 11 in Minnesota: 159th Minnesota Statehood Day

May 11, 2017

Flag etiquette following the U.S. Flag Code urges Americans to fly U.S. flags on the day of statehood for the state in which you reside.

Minnesota joined the Union on May 11, 1858.

Minnesota Capitol Chandelier, lit for Statehood Day, May 11.

Caption from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: The Minnesota Capitol chandelier was illuminated May 10, 2013 in celebration of Statehood Day. It has 92 bulbs surrounded by 40,000 crystal beads strung together and was recently painstakingly cleaned and refurbished. The fixture is traditionally lit once per year on Statehood Day. Minnesota became a part of the United States as Minnesota Territory in 1849, and became the 32nd U.S. state on May 11, 1858.

At the Library of Congress’s outstanding American Memory site, a much more detailed history of Minnesota statehood is featured on “Today in History,” reproduced here in its entirety:

The Star of the North

Dome of the Minnesota Capitol. Pinterest image.

Dome of the Minnesota Capitol. Pinterest image.

Capitol Building, exterior, St. Paul, MN
American Landscape and Architectural Design, 1850-1920

On May 11, 1858, Minnesota became the 32nd state admitted into the Union. Minnesota’s application for statehood was submitted to President James Buchanan in January, but became entangled with the controversial issue of Kansas statehood, delaying it for several months until it was finally approved by Congress.

Known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” or “Star of the North,” Minnesota is the northern terminus of the Mississippi River’s traffic and the westernmost point of an inland waterway which extends through the Great Lakes and, with the St. Lawrence Seaway, to the Atlantic Ocean.

The Ojibwa (Chippewa) and Dakota (Sioux) were among the tribal peoples who first made this land their home. For them state borders were non-existent, and their territory extended far beyond what is today Minnesota. The French claimed this region from the mid-1600s to the mid-1700s, developing a strong fur trade but ceding lands east of the Mississippi to Britain. The U.S. acquired the area and its rich natural resources through the Treaty of Paris (1783), and the Louisiana Purchase (1803).

U.S. administration of the northwest lands formally began with the 1787 passage of the Northwest Ordinance. The ordinance, one of the most important pieces of legislation passed by the Continental Congress, set out the requirements for a territory to become a state. The American Memory collection Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789 features a discussion of the Incorporation of the Western Territories. For additional information on England’s yielding of land west of the Appalachian Mountains, see the Today in History feature on the Surrender of Fort Sackville. A representation of Fort Sackville is accessible on The George Rogers Clark National Historic Park site.

From the 1820s on, protected the growth of the area now called Minnesota. During the Civil War, the fort served as a training center for thousands of young Minnesota volunteers who joined the Union Army. Twenty-four thousand soldiers who trained at the fort fought in the Union Army, serving gallantly at Gettysburg or during the Indian Outbreak. Once a military outpost at the edge of a small settlement, Fort Snelling is now located at the center of Minnesota’s “Twin Cities”—Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Wheat stack in Minnesota, circa 1910

Horse powered threshing rig, Blue Earth Minnesota, 1898 Courtesy Fred Hultstrand History in Pictures Collection, NDIRS-NDSU, Fargo - See more at: http://www.lakesnwoods.com/BlueEarthGallery.htm#sthash.i9zmvAlC.dpuf

Horse powered threshing rig, Blue Earth Minnesota, 1898. Colorized.  Courtesy Fred Hultstrand History in Pictures Collection, NDIRS-NDSU, Fargo – See more at: http://www.lakesnwoods.com/BlueEarthGallery.htm#sthash.i9zmvAlC.dpuf

Horse powered threshing rig, Blue Earth, Minnesota, 1898.
The Northern Great Plains, 1880-1920

Until the second half of the nineteenth century, immigration into Minnesota was slow. However, as the value of the state’s woodlands and fertile prairie was realized, settlers poured into the region with New England lumbermen leading the way. Between 1850 and 1857, the state population skyrocketed from 6,077 to over 150,000. As a large state with land for homesteading, Minnesota attracted immigrants from Norway, Sweden, Finland, and those seeking to own land in the United States. An 1878 brochure published by the Minnesota State Board of Immigration, describes the many reasons for moving to the state.

19th century advertisements to get people to move to Minnesota. Library of Congress images

19th century advertisements to get people to move to Minnesota. Library of Congress images; see description and link details below

Northern Line Packet Co.,
Advertisement for a steamship company in The Minnesota Guide. A Handbook of Information for the Travelers, Pleasure Seekers and Immigrants…, 1869.
Pioneering the Upper Midwest: Books from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, ca. 1820-1910

Still a leader in farming, lumbering, milling, and medical research, Minnesota is also an important center for the printing industry and a major producer of iron ore. Its largest city, Minneapolis, is home to the University of Minnesota, numerous museums, and theaters such as the Tyrone Guthrie Theater and the Walker Arts Center, and the world’s largest cash grain market.

St. Paul is the state capital.

Bird's eye view of Duluth Minnesota, 1914, via Library of Congress
Bird’s Eye View of Duluth, Minnesota, copyright 1914.
Taking the Long View, 1851-1991

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U.S. and Minnesota flags flying together. Minnesota state flag photo by AlexiusHoratius - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons, via Wikipedia

U.S. and Minnesota flags flying together. Minnesota state flag photo by AlexiusHoratius – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons, via Wikipedia

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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Fly your flag for Victory Europe Day, May 8, 2017 – 72nd anniversary

May 9, 2017

Yes, you should be flying your flag today for Victory Europe Day (VE Day)!

Caption from Pinterest, World War Items: A huge American flag unfurled in New York’s Herald Square on VE Day on May 8, 1945. This 80x160 foot flag was hung from the eighth floor balcony of Macy’s New York department store, covering the façade from 34th and 35th Streets along Broadway. Beneath it were placed a set of British, Chinese, French and Russian flags, held by two giant mailer fists. (AP Photo)

Caption from Pinterest, World War Items: A huge American flag unfurled in New York’s Herald Square on VE Day on May 8, 1945. This 80×160 foot flag was hung from the eighth floor balcony of Macy’s New York department store, covering the façade from 34th and 35th Streets along Broadway. Beneath it were placed a set of British, Chinese, French and Russian flags, held by two giant mailer fists. (AP Photo)

VE Day is not one listed in the Flag Code for flying the colors, but in most years there is a proclamation from the President urging that we do fly the flag. There appears to be no proclamation in 2017 — you may fly your flag anyway.

In 2015 year President Obama noted the 70th anniversary of VE Day with his weekly message:

From Business Insider: Col. Gen. Paul Stumpff, second left, Luftwaffe commander; Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, German army commander, raising baton; and Gen. Adm. Hans von Freideburg, rear, commander of the German navy; emerge after Germany's unconditional surrender was formally ratified in Berlin, May 9, 1945. (AP Photo/U.S. Signal Corps)

From Business Insider: Col. Gen. Paul Stumpff, second left, Luftwaffe commander; Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, German army commander, raising baton; and Gen. Adm. Hans von Freideburg, rear, commander of the German navy; emerge after Germany’s unconditional surrender was formally ratified in Berlin, May 9, 1945. (AP Photo/U.S. Signal Corps)

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill waves his hat to enthusiastic crowd at Whitehall, after unconditional surrender of Germany announced. (Who else is in the picture?)

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill waves his hat to enthusiastic crowd at Whitehall, after unconditional surrender of Germany announced. (Who else is in the picture?)

Perhaps thinking of the future, Churchill put down his hat, and waved his well-known and well-loved

Perhaps thinking of the future, Churchill put down his hat, and waved his well-known and well-loved “V for Victory” sign to the crowd at Whitehall.

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

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


May 2017, flag-flying dates

May 2, 2017

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 14, in 2017)
  • Armed Forces Day, third Saturday in May (May 20)
  • Memorial Day, the last Monday in May (May 28)

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)

In 2016 President Obama issued a proclamation calling on citizens to fly the flag on May 1, Law Day. It’s also Loyalty Day, which got a proclamation from President Obama calling for flag flying in 2016.

Trump did the same this year, and for Loyalty Day, surprising me that his office is organized enough to do it.

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.

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

  1. Law Day, May 1, AND
  2. Loyalty Day, May 1
  3. Victory in Europe Day, May 8
  4. Minnesota Statehood, May 11
  5. Mothers Day, May 14
  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 14-20 in 2017)
  7. Armed Forces Day, May 20
  8. National Maritime Day, May 22
  9. South Carolina Statehood, May 23, AND
  10. Wisconsin Statehood, May 23
  11. Memorial Day, May 28
  12. Rhode Island Statehood, May 29
US flag flying at the U.S. Supreme Court's west portico, suitable for Law Day, May 1. (But this photo was taken in June, 2012; Alex Brandon/AP)

US flag flying at the U.S. Supreme Court’s west portico, suitable for Law Day, May 1. (But this photo was taken in June, 2012; Alex Brandon/AP)

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

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

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April is the month to fly your flags!

April 5, 2017

Is April the cruelest month?

It’s cruel to people who want to fly U.S. flags often, but only on designated flag-flying dates. (April is also National Poetry Month, so it’s a good time to look up poetry references we should have committed to heart).

For 2017, these are the three dates for flying the U.S. flag; Easter is a national date, the other two are dates suggested for residents of the states involved.

One date, nationally, to fly the flag. That beats March, which has none (in a year with Easter in April and not March). But March has five statehood days, to April’s two.

Take heart! You may fly your U.S. flag any day you choose, or everyday as many people do in Texas (though, too many do not retire their flags every evening . . .).

Three dates to fly Old Glory in April, by the Flag Code and other laws on memorials and commemorations.

  • Easter, April 16
  • Maryland, April 28, 1788, 7th state
  • Louisiana, April 30, 1812 – 18th state

Some people have abused the flag in April.

Caption from The Guardian: Ted Landsmark (centre): ‘I had a sense that something really significant had happened.’ Boston, April 5, 1976. Photograph: stanleyformanphotos.com

Caption from The Guardian: Ted Landsmark (centre): ‘I had a sense that something really significant had happened.’ Boston, April 5, 1976. Photograph: stanleyformanphotos.com

See “That’s me in the picture: Ted Landsmark is assaulted in Boston, at an ‘anti-bussing’ protest, 5 April 1976,” Abigail Radnor, The Guardian, April 17, 2015; and “The U.S. Flag in the 20th Century (Part 2),” The Portland Flag Association.

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