Fly your U.S. flags in January 2020

January 1, 2020

“Raising the first American flag, Somerville, Mass., January 1, 1776.” Harper’s Weekly painting by Clyde Osmer DeLand, 1897. From the digital collections of the New York Public Library

January is loaded with flag flying dates, when we add in statehood days, dates those states are invited to fly their U.S. flags.

In January 2020, the U.S. Flag Code urges citizens to fly flags on these dates, listed chronologically:

  • New Year’s Day, January 1, a federal holiday
  • January 2, Georgia Statehood Day
  • January 3, Alaska Statehood Day
  • January 4, Utah Statehood Day
  • January 6, New Mexico Statehood Day
  • January 9, Connecticut Statehood Day
  • Martin Luther King’s Birthday, a federal holiday on the third Monday of January; that date is January 20, in 2020; King’s actual birthday is January 15, and you may fly your flag then, too
  • Inauguration Day, January 20, the year after election years; 2020 is not an inauguration year; 2021 will be
  • January 26, Michigan Statehood Day
  • January 29, Kansas Statehood Day

You may fly your flag any other day you wish, too; flags should not be flown after sundown unless they are specially lighted, or at one of the few places designated by Congress or Presidential Proclamation for 24-hour flag flying.  According to Wikipedia’s listing, those sites include:

  • Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Maryland (Presidential Proclamation No. 2795, July 2, 1948).
  • Flag House Square, Albemarle and Pratt Streets, Baltimore, Maryland (Public Law 83-319, approved March 26, 1954).
  • Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima Memorial), Arlington, Virginia (Presidential Proclamation No. 3418, June 12, 1961).
  • Lexington Battle Green, Lexington, Massachusetts (Public Law 89-335, approved November 8, 1965).
  • White House, Washington, D.C. (Presidential Proclamation No. 4000, September 4, 1970).
  • Washington Monument, Washington, D.C. (Presidential Proclamation No. 4064, July 6, 1971, effective July 4, 1971).
  • Any port of entry to the United States which is continuously open (Presidential Proclamation No. 413 1, May 5, 1972).
  • Grounds of the National Memorial Arch in Valley Forge State Park, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania (Public Law 94-53, approved July 4, 1975).
Flag House in 1936, 844 East Pratt & Albemarle Streets (Baltimore, Independent City, Maryland) (cropped). Image courtesy of the federal HABS—Historic American Buildings Survey of Maryland.

Flag House in 1936, where Mary Pickersgill sewed the garrison-sized, 15-star flag that flew over Fort McHenry at the Battle of Baltimore in 1814; one of the sites where the U.S. flag may be flown 24 hours. The house is at 844 East Pratt & Albemarle Streets (Baltimore, Independent City, Maryland). Cropped image courtesy of the federal HABS—Historic American Buildings Survey of Maryland.

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Children unfurl a large flag at a Denver Nuggets/Indiana Pacers NBA basketball game in Denver, January 2016. Colorado Public Radio image.
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Yes, this is an encore post. Defeating ignorance takes patience and perseverance.

Lesser-known flag-flying date: October 6, to honor fallen firefighters

October 5, 2019

Flag Raising 2019
Honor guard of firefighters raising flags at the National Memorial to Fallen Firefighters in Emmitsburg, Maryland, on October 4, 2019.

Note from the American Flagpole and Flag Company: Congress added another date to fly U.S. flags. From the e-mail:

Fly the United States Flag at Half-Staff on Sunday, October 6, 2019 in Honor of National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service

The United States Congress created the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation to lead a nationwide effort to remember America’s fallen firefighters. Since 1992, the tax-exempt, nonprofit Foundation has developed and expanded programs to honor our fallen fire heroes and assist their families and coworkers. The 38th National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service will be held Sunday, October 6, 2019, to honor 92 firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2018 and 27 firefighters who died in the line of duty in previous years.    

In accordance to Public Law 107-51, the American flag should be lowered to half-staff on Sunday, October 6, 2019 from sunrise to sunset in observance of National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service. 

The date was added in October 2001, just over a month after the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. President George Bush signed the law. Maybe oddly, the resolution does not specify a fixed or floating date, but instead refers to a National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service.

That service has been held annually since 2001 in Emmitsburg, Maryland, by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.


Constitution Day 2018: Fly your flag

September 17, 2018

Constitution Day comes every September 17, marking the day members of the Philadelphia convention signed the draft Constitution and sent it to the Second Continental Congress to be ratified by the 13 states.

Citizens may fly their flags, as government buildings do.

U.S. flag flying from the U.S.S. Constitution: CHARLESTOWN, Mass. (July 4, 2009) USS Constitution, the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat, returns to her berthing at the Charlestown Navy Yard after firing 21-gun and 19-gun salutes in Boston Harbor during 4th of July celebrations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Mark O'Donald/Released)

U.S. flag flying from the U.S.S. Constitution: CHARLESTOWN, Mass. (July 4, 2009) USS Constitution, the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat, returns to her berthing at the Charlestown Navy Yard after firing 21-gun and 19-gun salutes in Boston Harbor during 4th of July celebrations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Mark O’Donald/Released)

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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)


Fly your flag today? Remembering D-Day, 1944 – 74 years ago

June 6, 2018

First Flag on Utah Beach, June 6, 1944

First Flag on Utah Beach, June 6, 1944 – Photo by Mark Wainwright

Today is the 74th anniversary of the Invasion of Normandy in World War II, a date called D-Day.  I usually get at least one e-mail request:  No, you don’t have to fly your flag.  This is not one of the days designated by Congress for flag-flying.

But you may fly your flag, and probably, you should.  If there are any D-Day veterans in your town, they’ll appreciate it.

This is an encore post.

Yes, this is an encore post. Defeating ignorance takes patience and perseverance.

 


A brief history of Armed Forces Day, and why we fly the flag in 2018

May 19, 2018

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. This is just a great photo.

Armed Forces Day is the third Saturday in May. This year it falls on May 19.

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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Video flag in Times Square, reflected

January 1, 2018

Reuters photo, at the Baltimore Sun’s “Darkroom” blog.

Baltimore Sun caption: The U.S. flag is reflected in the window of a police car as a police man stands guard in Times Square ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations in New York, December 31, 2013. Security has been stepped up in the area around where the celebrations will take place. (REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

Baltimore Sun caption: The U.S. flag is reflected in the window of a police car as a police man stands guard in Times Square ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations in New York, December 31, 2013. Security has been stepped up in the area around where the celebrations will take place. (REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

Of course you’re flying your flag today, as the U.S. Flag Code recommends.

Is every holiday going to be taken over by flag-waving?


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