Patriot Day 2016: Fly your flag at half staff today, September 11

September 11, 2016

In Washington, D.C., three American flags fly at half-staff on Columbus Circle (outside of Union Station) on Patriot Day 2013.

Wikipedia image. In Washington, D.C., three American flags fly at half-staff on Columbus Circle (outside of Union Station) on Patriot Day 2013. The flags of several US states and territories can be seen also flying at half-staff in the background. “Union Station 2013-09-11 A” by T. H. Kelly. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Union_Station_2013-09-11_A.JPG#/media/File:Union_Station_2013-09-11_A.JPG

To honor those who died on September 11, 2001, flags in the U.S. fly at half-staff on September 11.  Known as Patriot Day, the date is not in the Flag Code, but is listed in a separate law.

In the United States, Patriot Day, observed as the National Day of Service and Remembrance, occurs on September 11 of each year in memory of the 2,977 killed in the 2001 September 11 attacks.

Fly your flag today, at half-staff. Remember when flying a flag at half-staff, it is first raised to full staff, then slowly lowered to the half-staff position. When the flag is retired at the end of the day, it should again be crisply raised to the full-staff position before being lowered.

A flag attached to a pole that does not allow a half-staff position should be posted as usual.

To further honor the dead, and survivors, many people participate in a day of service to others.

President Barack Obama issued a proclamation on September 9, 2016, ordering all federal facilities to fly flags at half-staff:

Presidential Proclamation — Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance, 2016

PATRIOT DAY AND NATIONAL DAY OF SERVICE AND REMEMBRANCE, 2016

– – – – – – –

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

Fifteen years ago, nearly 3,000 innocent lives men, women, and children who had been going about their normal routines were taken from us, depriving families and loved ones of a lifetime of precious moments. But the acts of terror of September 11, 2001, sought to do more than hurt our people and bring down buildings: They sought to break our spirit and destroy the enduring values that unite us as Americans. In the years that followed, our capacity to love and to hope has guided us forward as we worked to rebuild, more sound and resilient than ever before. With the hearts of those we lost held faithfully in our memories, we reaffirm the unwavering optimism and everlasting strength that brought us together in our darkest hour, and we resolve to give of ourselves in service to others in that same spirit.

The pain inflicted on our Nation on September 11 was felt by people of every race, background, and faith. Though many young Americans have grown up without knowing firsthand the horrors of that day, their lives have been shaped by it. They hear of the many acts of service that occurred coworkers who led others to safety, passengers who stormed a cockpit, and first responders who charged directly into the fire. Many Americans did everything they could to help survivors, from volunteering their time to donating food, clothing, and blood. And many signed up to don our Nation’s uniform to prove to the world that no act of terror could eclipse the strength or character of our country.

United by a common creed, a commitment to lifting up our neighbors, and a belief that we are stronger when we stand by one another, we must find the courage to carry forward the legacy of those who stepped up in our time of need. By devoting ourselves to each other and recognizing that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves just as heroic patriots did on September 11 we are paying tribute to their sacrifices. On this National Day of Service and Remembrance, we must ensure that darkness is no match for the light we shine by engaging in acts of service and charity. I invite all Americans to observe this day with compassionate and selfless deeds that embody the values that define our people, and to visit http://www.Serve.gov to find opportunities to give back to their communities.

America endures in the tenacity of our survivors, and in the dedication of those who keep us safe. Today, we honor all who lost their lives in the heartbreaking attacks of September 11, and all who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country in the years that followed. In memory of these beautiful souls, we vow to keep moving forward. Let us have confidence in the values that make us American, the liberties that make us a beacon to the world, and the unity we sustain every year on this anniversary. Above all, let us stand as strong as ever before and recognize that together, there is nothing we cannot overcome.

By a joint resolution approved December 18, 2001 (Public Law 107-89), the Congress has designated September 11 of each year as “Patriot Day,” and by Public Law 111-13, approved April 21, 2009, the Congress has requested the observance of September 11 as an annually recognized “National Day of Service and Remembrance.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 11, 2016, as Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance. I call upon all departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the United States to display the flag of the United States at half-staff on Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance in honor of the individuals who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. I invite the Governors of the United States and its Territories and interested organizations and individuals to join in this observance. I call upon the people of the United States to participate in community service in honor of those our Nation lost, to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities, including remembrance services, and to observe a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time to honor the innocent victims who perished as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this ninth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.

BARACK OBAMA

Do you plan any special service today?

From a photo release from the U.S. Navy in 2007: WASHINGTON (Sept. 11, 2007) - A memorial flag is illuminated near the spot where American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is scheduled to host the Pentagon Sept. 11 Memorial observance for family members of those who were killed in the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brandan W. Schulze (RELEASED)

From a photo release from the U.S. Navy in 2007: WASHINGTON (Sept. 11, 2007) – A memorial flag is illuminated near the spot where American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is scheduled to host the Pentagon Sept. 11 Memorial observance for family members of those who were killed in the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brandan W. Schulze (RELEASED)

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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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September 2016 calendar for flying Old Glory

September 11, 2016

Flag patched up with pieces from many flags, including the flag from Ft. McHenry; displayed at the National 9-11 Memorial Museum in New York City. Photo by Ed Darrel, use with attribution encouraged.

National 9-11 Flag patched up with pieces from many flags, including the flag from Ft. McHenry; displayed at the National 9-11 Memorial Museum in New York City. Photo by Ed Darrel, use with attribution encouraged.

Five days designated by law to fly the U.S. flag in September — only one statehood day, though, for California. In chronological order:

  • Labor Day, the first Monday in September — September 5, in 2016 (yep; passed)
  • California Statehood, September 9 (1850, the 31st state)
  • Patriot Day, September 11
  • Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, September 17; September 17-23 is also designated Constitution Week, though flag flying is not mentioned as a recommended activity (you may feel free to fly your flag anyway)
  • Gold Star Mothers Day, last Sunday in September — September 25 in 2016

Gold Star Mothers Day will probably get extra attention in this election year.

An American battle flag flew for the first time in battle on September 3, 1777, but this date is usually not commemorated.

This occurred during a Revolutionary War skirmish at Cooch’s Bridge, Delaware. Gen. William Maxwell, commanding a Patriot force of infantry and cavalry, ordered the new flag raised in a clash with an advance guard of British and Hessian troops.

The rebels were defeated and forced to retreat to the encampment housing Gen. George Washington’s main force near Brandywine Creek in Pennsylvania.

Three months beforehand, on June 14, the Continental Congress resolved that “the flag of the United States be 13 alternate stripes red and white” and that “the Union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

The new national flag, which quickly became known as the “Stars and Stripes,” was based on the “Grand Union” flag – a banner carried by the Continental Army in 1776 that consisted of 13 red and white stripes.

Ten dates to fly the U.S. flag in September; eleven if you’re in California.

September features several other commemorations that usually involve no flag flying (these are declarations for 2015):

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September 9, 2016 California Statehood Day

September 9, 2016

California residents fly their U.S. flags today in honor of California’s entering the union this day in 1850.

U.S. Flag Code guidelines list specific days Americans should fly U.S. flags, and generically, urges people in states to fly flags on their state’s day of achieving statehood.

It’s fun to read through the list of statehood dates and ponder just how such a date is calculated (consider the first 13 colonies and their becoming states); but however it was calculated, September 9 is California’s day.

U.S. and California flags flying from the same flagpole.

U.S. and California flags flying from the same flagpole.

Fly your flags, California.

3-cent stamp honoring California's statehood centennial, in 1950. Image from Rockhounds.com

3-cent stamp honoring California’s statehood centennial, in 1950. Image from Rockhounds.com

California was the 31st state admitted; 31-star flags were in use until Minnesota’s statehood in 1858.  Here’s a unique design on the 31-star motif:

31-start flag with stars arranged in

31-star flag with stars arranged in “Great Star” constellation suggested by War of 1812 Navy hero Samuel Reid, a wearer of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Reid urged 13 stripes instead of 15, which Congress accepted; but he also urged the Great Star design, which was not accepted. Placement of stars in the field remained unencumbered by rules until the Eisenhower administration. Photo from Jeff R. Bridgman Antiques.

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Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco, one of the 15 California songs listed at Today Past.

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

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience, and in the case of history tied to specific dates, repetition.

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Remember to fly your flag for Labor Day 2016, September 5

September 5, 2016

Still important in 2016: Fly your flag for American labor, Monday.

Especially important in 2016. It’s a presidential election year. Wave the flag! Labor Day is the “traditional” start of the campaign for the presidency. In your town, most likely, there is a picnic sponsored by a union or other pro-labor group, at which you would be welcomed and can meet many of the candidates in your local races. Go!

Free Labor Will Win, poster from 1942, (Library of Congress)

Poster from the Office of War Information, 1942

Put your flag out at sunrise, take it down at sunset. (Okay, you may fly your flag all weekend — especially if you’re a union member.  We get the whole weekend, but Labor Day itself is Monday.)

Labor Day 2016 in the United States is a federal holiday, and one of those days Americans are urged to fly the U.S. flag.

“Free Labor Will Win,” the poster said, encouraging a theme important during World War II, when unions were encouraged to avoid strikes or any action that might interrupt work to build the “arsenal of democracy” believed necessary to win the war.  Labor complied, the war was won, and organized labor was the stronger for it. In 2015, some have difficulty remembering when all Americans knew that our future rides on the backs of organized labor.

In war, America turned to organized labor to get the jobs done. Not only do we owe a debt to labor that deserves remembering, we have many jobs that need to be done now, for which organized labor is the best group to turn to.

The poster was issued by the Office of War Information in 1942, in full color. A black-and-white version at the Library of Congress provides a few details for the time:

Labor Day poster. Labor Day poster distributed to war plants and labor organizations. The original is twenty-eight and one-half inches by forty inches and is printed in full color. It was designed by the Office of War Information (OWI) from a photograph especially arranged by Anton Bruehl, well-known photographer. Copies may be obtained by writing the Distribution Section, Office of War Information [alas, you can’t get a copy from the Office of War Information in 2012]

Even down here in deepest, darkest-right-to-work Texas, patriots fly their flags to honor Labor today. It’s heartening.

Flags fly all around in 1882 at the first Labor Day Parade in New York City’s Union Square; lithograph from USC’s Dornsife History Center, via Wikipedia, artist unidentified

What’s the history of labor in your family?

More, Other Resources:

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This is an encore post, a Labor Day tradition.

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August 21, 2016: Fly your flag for Hawaii Statehood in 1959

August 21, 2016

It’s been 57 years since the youngest state entered the union — the longest stretch in which the U.S. has not added another state.

"On June 14, 1959, Boy Scout Milton Motooka helped get the word out for Hawaii’s statehood plebiscite to be held 13 days later. A new documentary will focus on Hawaii’s statehood." Hawaiians voted yes in the plebiscite, and statehood was declared two months later. (Whatever became of Scout Motooka?)

“On June 14, 1959, Boy Scout Milton Motooka helped get the word out for Hawaii’s statehood plebiscite to be held 13 days later. A new documentary will focus on Hawaii’s statehood.” Hawaiians voted yes in the plebiscite, and statehood was declared two months later. (Whatever became of Scout Motooka? See comments on last year’s post.)

“On June 14, 1959, Boy Scout Milton Motooka helped get the word out for Hawaii’s statehood plebiscite to be held 13 days later. A new documentary will focus on Hawaii’s statehood.” Hawaiians voted yes in the plebiscite, and statehood was declared two months later. (Whatever became of Scout Motooka?)

June’s plebiscite smoothed the path for statehood, declared two months later.

A newsboy happily hawks the Honolulu Star-Bulletin with the headline showing the state had achieved statehood, August 21, 1959. Star-Bulletin photo

13-year-old paperboy Chester Kahapea happily hawks a commemorative edition of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin with the headline showing the state had achieved statehood after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the law authorizing Hawaii as a state. Star-Bulletin photo by Murray Befeler.

Hawaii’s official statehood day is August 21, commemorating the day in 1959 when Hawaii was recognized as a member of the union of the United States of America.  Hawaiians should fly their flags to day in honor of the date (you may, too).

Hawaii formally celebrates the day on the third Friday in August, this year on the 19th.  I hope you joined in the festivities (it’s a holiday in Hawaii) — but under the U.S. Flag Code, you may certainly fly your flags on August 21, regardless which day of the week that is.

Specimen copy of the ballot used by Hawaiians in a June 27, 1959, plebiscite to approve conditions of statehood. Image from Hawaii Magazine, 2009

Specimen copy of the ballot used by Hawaiians in a June 27, 1959, plebiscite to approve conditions of statehood. Image from Hawaii Magazine, 2009

After the U.S. annexed Hawaii in 1898 (in action separate from the Spanish-American War) attempts at getting Hawaii admitted as a state got rolling.  After World War II, with the strategic importance of the islands firmly implanted in Americans’ minds, the project picked up some steam.  Still, it was 14 years after the end of the war that agreements were worked out between the people of Hawaii, the Hawaiian royal family, Congress and the executive branch.  The deal passed into law had to be ratified by a plebiscite among Hawaiian citizens.  The proposition won approval with 94% of votes in favor.

Some native Hawaiian opposition to statehood arose later, and deference to those complaints has muted statehood celebrations in the 21st century.

Other than the tiny handful of loudmouth birthers, most Americans today are happy to have Hawaii as a state, the fifth richest in the U.S. by personal income.  The nation has a lot of good and great beaches, but the idea of catching sun and surf in Hawaii on vacation might be considered an idealized part of the American dream.

“Loudmouth birthers?” Yeah, Barack Obama, our 45th President, was born in Hawaii in 1961. Some whiners think that, but for statehood, Obama would not have been a citizen eligible to be president. Hawaii is not good ground for growing sour grapes, though. Birth in a territory would probably be enough to make him eligible. Water under the bridge: Hawaii was a state in 1961. President Obama remains president.

U.S. and Hawaii flags flying together.

U.S. and Hawaii flags flying together.

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U.S. postage stamp issued in 2009 commemorating the 50th anniversary of Hawaii's admission to the union.

U.S. postage stamp issued in 2009 commemorating the 50th anniversary of Hawaii’s admission to the union.

Contrast the first class postage price above with the airmail postage price of this stamp issued in 1959 — August 21, 1959 7¢ Rose Hawaii Statehood C55 26432. Wikipedia image

Contrast the first class postage price above with the airmail postage price of this stamp issued in 1959 — August 21, 1959 7¢ Rose Hawaii Statehood stamp. Wikipedia image

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This is an encore post.

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National Aviation Day, 2016: Wave those flags, patriots!

August 19, 2016

NASA's poster for National Aviation Day 2016. A young girl looks up at some of the experimental ideas for future aviation. NASA said:

NASA’s poster for National Aviation Day 2016. A young girl looks up at some of the experimental ideas for future aviation. NASA said: “It’s an exciting time for aviation, with potential NASA X-planes on the horizon and a lot of new technologies that are making airplanes much more Earth friendly. Use National Aviation Day to excite and inspire the young people you know about exploring aeronautics as a future career. Credits: NASA / Maria C. Werries”

August 19 is National Aviation Day. In federal law, the day is designated for flying the flag (36 USC 1 § 118).

August 19 is the anniversary of the birth of Orville Wright, usually credited with being on the team with his brother Wilbur who successfully built and flew the first heavier-than-air flying machine.

Celebrate? The White House issued no proclamation for 2016, but you may fly your flag anyway.


When should you fly your U.S. flag in August 2016?

August 5, 2016

U.S. Olympic Women's Soccer team flying the national colors, in London, 2012 Olympics (I think)

U.S. Olympic Women’s Soccer team flying the national colors, in London, August 2012 Olympics (I think) Image via I Am That Girl

August in the U.S. is a lazy, often hot, summer month.  It’s a month for vacation, picnicking, local baseball games, camping, cookouts and beach vacations.  It’s not a big month for events to fly the U.S. flag.

Except, perhaps, in Olympics years, when the U.S. flag is often flown a lot, in distant locations.

Only one event calls for nation-wide flag-flying in August, National Aviation Day on August 19.  This event is not specified in the Flag Code, but in a separate provision in the same chapter U.S. Code.  Three states celebrate statehood, Colorado, Hawaii and Missouri.

Put these dates on your calendar to fly the flag in August:

  • August 1, Colorado statehood (1876, 38th state)
  • August 10, Missouri statehood (1821, 24th state)
  • August 19, National Aviation Day, 36 USC 1 § 118
  • August 21, Hawaii statehood (1959, 50th state)

If you want to fly your flag whenever a U.S. athlete gets a gold medal at the Olympics, that’s okay. Or any medal. Or all during the Olympics.

You may fly your U.S. flag any day. These are just the suggested days in law.

The American Flag, as it is known today, flies over Fort Stanwix National Monument. It is flown following the U.S. flag code regulations. At all times of the year it is a quite a site to see. National Park Service VIP Mike Hucko

US flag at site of a bitter siege in August, 1777; National Parks Service Caption: The American Flag, as it is known today, flies over [Fort Stanwix] National Monument. It is flown following the U.S. flag code regulations. At all times of the year it is a quite a site to see. National Park Service VIP Mike Hucko

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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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