November 1, 2016
An election day in Philadelphia, 1815. Display of the national flag runs to the earliest days of the U.S. republic. “John Lewis Krimmel, ELECTION DAY AT THE STATE HOUSE, (1815). Courtesy the Historical Society of Pennsylvania”
Eight events spread over six different days come with urgings to fly the U.S. flag in November: Six states celebrate statehood, Veterans Day falls as always on November 11, and Thanksgiving Day on November 24.
Did I say eight? 2016 is a federal election year; we fly flags at polling places on election day, so that makes nine events — but election day falls on Montana’s statehood day, so it’s still just six days. You may fly your flag at home on election day, too.
Two states, North Dakota and South Dakota, celebrate their statehood on the same date. Washington’s statehood day falls on Veterans Day, November 11 — so there are only six days covering eight events.
In calendar order for 2015, these are the seven days:
- North Dakota statehood day, November 2 (1889, 39th or 40th state)
- South Dakota statehood day, November 2 (1889, 39th or 40th state) (shared with North Dakota)
- Election day, November 8 (nationwide)
- Montana statehood day, November 8 (1889, 41st state)
- Veterans Day, November 11
- Washington statehood day, November 11 (1889, 42nd state) (shared with Veterans Day)
- Oklahoma statehood day, November 16 (1907, 46th state)
- North Carolina statehood day, November 21 (1789, 12th state)
- Thanksgiving Day, fourth Thursday in November (November 24 in 2016)
Most Americans will concern themselves only with Veterans Day and Thanksgiving Day. Is flying the U.S. flag for statehood day a dying tradition?
Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.
October 4, 2016
Roosevelt look-alike Pietro Casini, an Italian merchant. Casini stands outside his Magazzino Roosevelt shop in Florence, Italy, holding a U.S. flag and a photo of Roosevelt. Oct. 26, 1915. George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. via Pinterest
October is not a big month for dates to fly the U.S. flag. Only one state joined the union in October, and only two other dates have merited Congress’s designation for flag-flying.
Here are October’s three flag-flying days, in chronological order:
- Columbus Day, October 12 — tradition puts Columbus Day on October 12, but in law it is designated as the second Monday in October (to make a three-day weekend for workers who get a holiday); in 2016, October 10 is the second Monday of the month.
- Navy Day, October 27
- Nevada Statehood Day, October 31; Nevada joined the union during the Civil War, in 1864, the 36th state.
Federal law also designates October 9 as Leif Erickson Day, a concession to Scandanavian-descended Americans who argue Erickson beat Columbus to the Americas by a few hundred years. Congress’s recognition does not include an urging to fly the flag, though the President may issue such a proclamation.
Other notable stuff:
September 11, 2016
U.S. flag flying in a stiff, top-of-Cedar-Hill breeze, at Camp Wisdom, part of Camp Billy Sowell, in Dallas, Circle 10 Council BSA.
Feel free to use and distribute, though I would appreciate attribution if you do. Handheld iPhone6 video by Ed Darrell.
Update: Here’s a YouTube version, which may be easier for you to copy and embed.
September 11, 2016
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):
- Snopes on the annual e-mail campaign to get people to fly their flags on September 11, assuming no one remembers the federal law nor pays attention to the news
- “September a perfect time to fly the flag,” Lynn Petrak, Chicago Tribune, August 27, 2015
- Amherst, Massachusetts, will fly U.S. flags for September 11 this year, latest chapter in a dispute about how properly to remember victims of the 2001 attacks
- Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina, will give out U.S. flags to people who wish to exchange Confederate flags, during the Southern 500 race event — AP report in USA Today
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.
Fly your flags, California.
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-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.
- “William Tecumsah Sherman marched through California,” Joe Mathews, Sacramento Bee, September 7, 2016
- “General Sherman played role in California Statehood,” Joe Mathews, San Diego Union, September 8, 2016
- 15 great California songs, at Today Past
- California State Librarian Greg Lucas said California’s made great by the state’s diversity, with more than 300 languages spoken by people in the state; see his essay at the Sacramento Bee; Lucas offers links to lists of California’s greatness
- Sac Bee also notes the original 1849 California Constitution will be displayed at the Secretary of State Building in Sacramento, for the 165th anniversary of statehood
- Napa Valley Register chronicles the rise and fall of California Admission Day celebrations; used to be really, really big in Napa (my father and mother lived in Napa for a time after they married; a golden time in a golden place, they said)
- No, don’t mention the California Republic to a native Texan; it would be a cause of great denial
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, and in the case of history tied to specific dates, repetition.
August 5, 2016
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.
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
July 8, 2016
U.S. flag flying at half-staff over the North Portico of the White House. (Undated photo)
President Barack Obama ordered U.S. flags to be flown half-staff through sundown, July 12, to honor Dallas shooting victims.
Proclamation from President Barack Obama:
Presidential Proclamation — Honoring the Victims of the Attack in Dallas, Texas
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
As a mark of respect for the victims of the attack on police officers perpetrated on Thursday, July 7, 2016, in Dallas, Texas, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon 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, July 12, 2016. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time 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 eighth day of July, 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.
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In a separate action, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick ordered Texas flags be flown half-staff. Patrick issued the order because Gov. Greg Abbott is traveling out of state.
U.S. and Texas flags at half-staff at the offices of the Longview News-Journal, in Longview, Texas, July 8, 2016