Veterans Day 2018 – Fly your flag

November 11, 2018

We fly our flags today, November 11, to honor all veterans, an extension and morphing of Armistice Day, which marked the end of World War I. The Armistice took effect on the November 11, 1918.

(In 2018, many commemorations have been moved to Monday, November 12; feel free to fly the flag both days.)

Veterans Day parade in Aurora, Illinois, unknown year. Photo from EnjoyAurora.com.

Veterans Day parade features a nice jumble of flags in Aurora, Illinois, unknown year. Photo from EnjoyAurora.com.

Another very nice Veterans Day poster from the Veterans Administration, for 2018:

2018's Veterans Day from the Veterans Administration features the poppy symbolic of World War I, contrasted with barbed wire from the battlefields.

2018’s Veterans Day from the Veterans Administration features the poppy symbolic of World War I, contrasted with barbed wire from the battlefields.

In world history or U.S. history, I usually stop for the day to talk about the origins of Veterans Day in Armistice Day, the day the guns stopped blazing to effectively end fighting in World War I.

For several reasons including mnemonic, the treaty called for an end to hostilities on the “11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” of 1918. Your state’s history standards probably list that phrase somewhere, but the history behind it is what students really find interesting.

Original documents and good history can be found at the Library of Congress online collections.

The Allied powers signed a ceasefire agreement with Germany at Rethondes, France, at 11:00 a.m. on November 11, 1918, bringing the war later known as World War I to a close.

President Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day the following year on November 11, 1919, with the these words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…” Originally, the celebration included parades and public meetings following a two-minute suspension of business at 11:00 a.m.

Co. E, 102nd U.S.A. Curtiss Studio, photographers, c1917. Panoramic Photographs. Prints & Photographs Division

 

Between the world wars, November 11 was commemorated as Armistice Day in the United States, Great Britain, and France. After World War II, the holiday was recognized as a day of tribute to veterans of both wars. Beginning in 1954, the United States designated November 11 as Veterans Day to honor veterans of all U.S. wars. British Commonwealth countries now call the holiday Remembrance Day.

Online holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) provide rich sources of information on America’s military, and on veteran’s day. NARA leans to original documents a bit more than the Library of Congress. For Veterans Day 2016, NARA featured an historic photo form 1961:

 President John F. Kennedy Lays a Wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as part of Veterans Day Remembrances, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, 11/11/1961 Series: Robert Knudsen White House Photographs, 1/20/1961 - 12/19/1963. Collection: White House Photographs, 12/19/1960 - 3/11/1964 (Holdings of the @jfklibrary)

NARA caption: President John F. Kennedy Lays a Wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as part of Veterans Day Remembrances, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, 11/11/1961 Series: Robert Knudsen White House Photographs, 1/20/1961 – 12/19/1963. Collection: White House Photographs, 12/19/1960 – 3/11/1964 (Holdings of the @jfklibrary)

For teachers, that page also features this:

For Veterans Day, explore the many resources in the National Archives about veterans and military service.

(Well, actually it’s for everyone. But teachers love those kinds of links, especially AP history teachers who need documents for “Document-Based Questions” (DBQs).

On one page, the Veterans Administration makes it easy for teachers to plan activities; of course, you need to start some of these weeks before the actual day:

For Teachers & Students

Hope your Veterans Day 2017 goes well, and remember to fly your flag at home.

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November 2018 days for flying the flag

November 1, 2018

A polling place in Glasgow, Kentucky, in 2016. Photo by Kevin Willis, WKU Public Radio.

A U.S. flag flies at a polling place in Glasgow, Kentucky, in 2016. Photo by Kevin Willis, WKU Public Radio.

Nine events spread over seven 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 22.

Did I say eight? 2018 is an election year for Congress; we fly flags at polling places on election day, so that makes nine events. You may fly your flag at home on election day, too. (Yes, flags should be flown at all early polling places, on days of early voting, too — do you know of poll where that did not occur? Tell us in comments.)

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 seven days covering nine events.

In calendar order for 2018, 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 6 (Congress and several states) — Go vote!
  • 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 22 in 2018)

Most Americans will concern themselves only with Veterans Day and Thanksgiving Day. Is flying the U.S. flag for statehood day a dying tradition?

More:

Polling station in South Carolina. SCETV image.

Polling station in South Carolina. SCETV image.

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October 2018 dates to fly Old Glory

October 18, 2018

Solidarity with the United States:

Solidarity with the United States: “Tel Aviv city hall, lit up in the colors of the American flag to honor the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, on October 2, 2017. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)” – From the Times of Israel

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 received Congress’s designation for flag-flying.

Here are October’s three flag-flying days, in chronological order:

  • Columbus Day, October 8 —  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 2017, October 8 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.

(Yes, I’m getting to this late this year; it’s an election year, you know.)

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.

October 6 is German-American Day, whose history I do not know.

October 27 is also the birth date of Theodore Roosevelt (1858), the Secretary of the Navy who led the dramatic updating of the fleet that preceded the U.S. push to become a major international power. Navy Day was set on October 27 partly to honor Teddy’s work, and Teddy himself — the “birth” date of the U.S. Navy is considered to be October 7. Here’s a brief history of TR before his presidency, at the Miller Center, written by Sidney Milkis.

Fans of Roosevelt may get an little extra kick flying the flag on his birthday.

Other notable stuff:

More:

Fourth grade students practice U.S. flag etiquette with the help of National Park Service Rangers at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site in New York. Sagamore Hill, at Oyster Bay, was the home of Theodore Roosevelt and his family. National Park Service Photo

Fourth grade students practice U.S. flag etiquette with the help of National Park Service Rangers at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site in New York. Sagamore Hill, at Oyster Bay, was the home of Theodore Roosevelt and his family. National Park Service Photo

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Patriot Day, September 11, 2018: Fly your flags today, half-staff

September 11, 2018

There has been no proclamation from the White House yet, but Sen. Edward Kennedy’s law on remembering the attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001, calls for flying the flag at half staff, as well as for acts of service to the community. Both are remembrances of the victims and heroes of 9/11.

From the Twitter feed of Prof. Frank McDonough: A total of 343 New York fire service personnel died trying to save lives on 9/11. (photo uncredited, undated)

From the Twitter feed of Prof. Frank McDonough: A total of 343 New York fire service personnel died trying to save lives on 9/11. (photo uncredited, undated)


September 2018: When to fly the the U.S. flag

August 31, 2018

ARLINGTON, VA - SEPTEMBER 11: In this U.S. Navy handout, sunrise at the Pentagon prior to a ceremony to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. The American flag is draped over the site of impact at the Pentagon. Photo by Damon J. Moritz

Caption from Foreign Policy Magazine: ARLINGTON, VA – SEPTEMBER 11: In this U.S. Navy handout, sunrise at the Pentagon prior to a ceremony to commemorate the 2016 anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. The American flag is draped over the site of impact at the Pentagon. Photo by Damon J. Moritz

September features few dates to fly the U.S. flag in an average year. Labor Day is the only national holiday. Only California joined the union in a past September, so that’s the only statehood date. Gold Star Mothers Day had fallen out of regular honors, until our two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

School reform efforts after 2000 turned to adding patriotism to the curriculum. Most states now require something be said about the Constitution in social studies classes, and that has increased focus on Constitution Day on September 17. On September 17, 1787, the convention in Philadelphia signed and formally transmitted the proposed Constitution to the 2nd Continental Congress, with a plan that each state would call a convention of citizens to ratify the document; when citizens of at least 9 states ratified, the document entered into force.

Attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001, led to a new day honoring patriots, on that day of the month every year.

The dates are few, but the sobriety and somberness are great.

Here are the dates to fly the U.S. flag in September 2018. In order:

More:

The largest free-flying American flag in the world flew over the George Washington Bridge Monday, Sept. 2, 2013, in Fort Lee, New Jersey, for Labor Day. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said the flag flew on Labor Day under the upper arch of the bridge’s New Jersey tower, to honor working men and women across the country. The flag is 90 feet long by 60 feet wide, with stripes measuring about five feet wide and stars about four feet in diameter. (AP Photo/Mel Evans) (via Mowry Journal)

The largest free-flying American flag in the world flew over the George Washington Bridge Monday, Sept. 2, 2013, in Fort Lee, New Jersey, for Labor Day. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said the flag flew on Labor Day under the upper arch of the bridge’s New Jersey tower, to honor working men and women across the country. The flag is 90 feet long by 60 feet wide, with stripes measuring about five feet wide and stars about four feet in diameter. (AP Photo/Mel Evans) (via Mowry Journal)

 

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Beto O’Rourke, on kneeling for national anthem

August 23, 2018

U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas (El Paso) in a House committee hearing room. Relevant Magazine image.

U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas (El Paso) in a House committee hearing room. Relevant Magazine image.

U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke reaches out to every Texan in his campaign for the U.S. Senate seat occupied by Ted Cruz. O’Rourke already visited all 254 Texas counties, listening to Texans tell him what is important in their lives.

Now Beto conducts town hall meetings.

Recently a Texan asked him about NFL players’ kneeling during the national anthem.

Does his answer surprise you? It reveals the thought he’s put into issues.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Now This! on Twitter.


July 21, 2018: Hawaii statehood, fly your flag!

August 20, 2018

It’s been 59 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? 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? See comments on last year’s post.)

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

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

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.

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