November 1, 2015
The U.S. flag is popular the world over, especially when the president visits a foreign nation, as President Barack Obama visited Burma (Myanmar) in November 2012. Voice of America caption from November 16, 2012: “A shopkeeper waves an American flag at a roadside shop in Rangoon, Burma. U.S. President Barack Obama will visit Burma on Monday, becoming the first U.S. president to visit the country. (AP)”
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 26.
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)
- 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 26 in 2015)
Most Americans will concern themselves only with Veterans Day and Thanksgiving Day. Is flying the U.S. flag for statehood day a dying tradition?
October 1, 2015
Knights of Columbus of New Haven, Connecticut, present the U.S. flag at the start of New Haven’s Columbus Day Parade, 2006. 28 flags demonstrated the history of the U.S. flag. KofC photo
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 2015, October 12 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.
September 17, 2015
Happy Constitution day! (Remember to fly your flag today.)
Have you read the U.S. Constitution lately?
Contrary to what your local Tea Party claims, it hasn’t changed. But most people need a refresher from time to time.
First page of the U.S. Constitution, National Archives and Records Administration photo
Okay, maybe that’s a little tough to read. Check out the on-line display of the National Archives and Records Administration in the Charters of Freedom section:
- A much-easier-to-read transcript of the Constitution (so you don’t have to strain at the image above)
- “A More Perfect Union,” an essay on the creation of the Constitution
- Questions and answers on the 1787 Convention in Philadelphia, and on the Constitution
- The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution
- Amendments 11 through 27 — notice that, although not ratified until 1991, the 27th Amendment was in the package of amendments proposed by James Madison in 1789, a package of twelve proposed amendments, of which ten were ratified within a few months to become the Bill of Rights
- Stories about the delegates to the Philadelphia Convention in 1787
- Faulkner murals in the Archives Rotunda, on the presentation of the Constitution (and Declaration of Independence)
- Information on visiting the actual documents, at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
The Constitution Center in Philadelphia plans a full day of celebration, much of it streamed online for classroom use:
Watch as we kick off the day with a rousing reading of the Preamble of the Constitution of the United States on the museum’s front lawn!
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer meets with students for a town hall conversation about his work with the Constitution and the ins and outs of his job!
Join a virtual tour of the museum, including Signers’ Hall
and The Story of We the People
, followed by a conversation with Judge Marjorie O. Rendell of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit!
Justice Stephen Breyer returns to discuss his latest book, The Court and the World: American Law and the New Global Realities, as well as how American law applies in international contexts.
Catch the newest edition of our award-winning video series and join our staff for a live discussion about Constitution Day! The chat will be available until September 23, from 7 AM to 6 PM EDT.
Follow along with our festivities on social media and share your own celebration! Join the conversation with @ConstitutionCtr and #ConstitutionDay!
Justice Stephen Breyer’s interview alone should be worth the price of admission. He’s taking on the bizarre notion that U.S. judges should never look to see what foreign courts and legislatures do. That view has led to state laws recently that claim to ban local courts’ use of foreign law.
In the year of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta? Hello?
Odd fact for Constitution Day: There is no direct mention of a U.S. flag in the Constitution.
Rotunda for the charters of Freedom at National Archives (NARA) building in Washington, D.C. Here displayed are the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the U.S. Constitution. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
September 9, 2015
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.
Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience, and in the case of history tied to specific dates, repetition.
September 3, 2015
Business Insider photo of a giant flag suspended at the George Washington Bridge between New York City and New Jersey, on September 2, 2013, to celebrate Labor Day; Collins Flags said: “This flag isn’t just any flag, it is the largest free-flying American flag in the entire world. It measures a total of 90 feet (27 meters) long and 60 feet (18 meters) wide. In order to preserve the quality of the flag, the Port Authority took the flag down Monday evening after letting it fly all day.”
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 8, in 2015
- 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 27 in 2015
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.
September features several other commemorations that usually involve no flag flying:
- 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
July 30, 2015
National anthem at opening day 2011 at the Ballpark in Arlington, where the Texas Rangers play. Many Americans salute the flag several times during August at U.S. major league ballparks. Photo: Texas Rangers/Examiner/Ben Werz. (How many displays in contravention of the U.S. Flag Code can you spot?)
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.
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)
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
June 14, 2015
Of course you know to fly your flag on June 14 for Flag Day — but did you know that the week containing Flag Day is Flag Week, and we are encouraged to fly the flag every day?
Clifford Berryman’s 1901 Flag Day cartoon, found at the National Archives: “In this June 14, 1904, cartoon, Uncle Sam gives a lesson to schoolchildren on the meaning of Flag Day. Holding the American flag in one hand, Uncle Sam explains that the flag has great importance, unlike the Vice Presidency, which he ridicules in a kindly manner. (National Archives Identifier 6010464)”
Our National Archives has a blogged history of Flag Day pointing out it was a teacher who started Flag Day celebrations.
On June 14, 1885, Bernard J. Cigrand placed a 10-inch, 38-star flag in a bottle on his desk at the Stony Hill School in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin. The 19-year-old teacher then asked his students to write essays on the flag and its significance to them. This small observance marked the beginning of a long and devoted campaign by Cigrand to bring about national recognition for Flag Day.
And so we do, today, still.