On Monday, June 14 at 5:30 p.m. the Faribault Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will be performing a Flag Retirement Ceremony on the east side of the American Legion, 112 5 th St. NE. Old tattered, torn, or faded flags will be officially retired by burning them. The public is invited to view. Flags needing to be retired can be dropped off at the American Legion year-around in a box by the north door inside the bar.
The world’s most prolific flag burners are children. According to the Unites States Flag Code, burning a flag is actually the preferred and most dignified method of retiring an old or damaged flag. More than 4 million members of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America conduct Flag Retirement Ceremonies and receive merit badges for doing so.
Flag Day is Monday, June 14. The day commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777, by resolution of the Second Continental Congress. The resolution stated, “Resolved, That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
It’s unclear who officially suggested the creation of Flag Day first. Victor Morris of Hartford, Conn., is popularly given the credit of suggesting “Flag Day,” in honor of the 1777 adoption of the American flag on June 14. The city of Hartford observed the day in 1861, carrying out a program of a patriotic order, praying for the success of the Federal arms and the preservation of the Union. The Civil War had begun April 12 of that year.
Another key person was B.J. Cigrand, a Wisconsin-born schoolteacher, who, starting in 1886, continuously proposed an annual observance of the flag in magazine and newspaper articles.
He even arranged for his pupils to celebrate a day recognizing what he called the flag’s “birthday” on June 14.
There was also George Bolch, a New York kindergarten teacher who planned Flag Day ceremonies for the kids at his school. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Duane Gillespie—a direct descendant of Benjamin Franklin—pushed for a similar observance in Pennsylvania in 1893.
It took three presidents to get Flag Day on the government’s radar—President Woodrow Wilson issued a formal proclamation for Flag Day in 1916 and President Calvin Coolidge did the same in 1927. But in 1949, Congress finally approved, and President Harry Truman signed the national observance of Flag Day on June 14 into law. Flag Day isn’t a federal holiday. In fact, only Pennsylvania celebrates the day as a state holiday.
Other interesting flag facts:
• In the past 244 years, the American flag has had 27 changes
• The current 50-star pattern on the flag was designed in 1958 by then 17-year-old student Robert G. Heft for a history project. The design was ultimately submitted to Congress and accepted by President Eisenhower.
Heft’s project was graded as B- but promptly upgraded to an A when the President chose his design.
• According to the official United States Flag Code, the stars and stripes should never be used for advertising purposes and should not be worn on apparel except by military personnel, firefighters, police officers, and members of patriotic organizations.
• Military uniforms wear the flag backward. Flag patches on military uniforms should be worn with the star field always facing front to mimic a flag blowing in the wind as soldiers charge into battle.
• While deployed, many soldiers wear a subdued blue-gray version of the flag patch that is made of infrared light-emitting material. When viewed through night vision goggles, the flags glow in the dark—helping soldiers to identify friendly forces in the field.
• Our moon flags have all turned white. On the moon with alternating 14-day spans of scorching 100 degrees Celsius heat followed by 14 days of pitch-black -150 degrees Celsius cold, the cruel climate (plus a constant bath of intense UV radiation) every day for 50-some years has turned the nylon flags bleach-white, according to lunar scientists. The six U.S. flags planted on the Moon during the Apollo program would be faded beyond recognition today.
• Betsy Ross may not have had anything to do with the flag design. Philadelphia-born upholsterer Betsy Ross is given credit for sewing and designing the very first American flag, but there is no evidence that she had anything to do with it. Strangely, the first account of Ross’s flag-sewing legacy didn’t air until 1870, nearly a century after the flag debuted and long after Ross herself had died. Ross’s grandson was the first person to tell the tale. It is still not known whether her legend is true.
• June 14 is also the birthday of the U.S. military, specifically the United States Army which was established on June 14, 1775. Flag Day also falls during National Flag Week — a time when Americans reflect on the nation’s principles of being a free country. The best way to celebrate our freedoms is by proudly flying the American flag on Flag Day and everyday throughout the year.