Editorial: A call for unity on Flag Day
It was on this date in 1777 that the Continental Congress passed a resolution determining that “the flag of the United States shall be of thirteen stripes of alternate red and white, with a union of thirteen stars of white in a blue field, representing the new constellation.”
The effort to get a national holiday declared in honor of that resolution began about a century later. A pair of school teachers, BJ Cigrand in Fredonia, Wisconsin and George Balch of New York City were among the earliest proponents.
Both Presidents Woodrow Wilson (1916) and Calvin Coolidge (1927) issued proclamations requesting that June 14 be declared a national holiday, but it wasn’t until 1949 that Congress passed and President Harry Truman signed legislation declaring today to be Flag Day.
In the years since then, it has become a tradition for the president to sign a new proclamation every year in honor of Flag Day and National Flag Week. This year’s proclamation was signed by President Barack Obama on June 10.
“With hands over hearts, Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs have long saluted Old Glory and honored its legacy,” the 2016 proclamation reads. “Our flag persists as a powerful representation of freedom and opportunity. Waving high above capitol buildings and courthouses, military bases and embassies across the globe, and on the distant surface of the moon, it calls on each of us to remember our obligations to the Republic for which it stands and to carry forward the unwavering optimism that defines us. America endures because of the courage of servicemen and women who serve under this standard, and our veterans are forever draped in the red, white, and blue when they are laid to rest. Wherever the flag lies or flies, its message is clear: We rise and fall together, as one Nation and one people.
“The American flag invokes pride in our citizens and hope in those who come to our shores in search of a brighter tomorrow. In recognition of the ways it has embodied our ideals and sustained our Nation, let us pay tribute to the Star Spangled Banner and continue striving to create a more perfect and indivisible Union — with liberty and justice for all.”
Also on this date, two years before the resolution approving the design of the flag, the Continental Congress authorized enlistment of riflemen, giving birth to the U.S. Army. The resolution called for 10 companies of riflemen and appointed a committee to draft rules for the new army.
“Two hundred forty-one years ago, our nation's leaders established the Continental Army. Today, the Army is the strategic landpower of the joint force; called upon to prevent, shape, and win against our adversaries,” the Army states on its webpage.
To honor both the historic significance of these events, as well as the importance of the flag and the Army to us today, millions of American will be marking the day by proudly flying their U.S. flags. We urge all who can to join in this annual patriotism, which comes at a sad time for our nation. This year on Flag Day, U.S. flags flying over government buildings will be at half-staff in honor of those killed in the Orlando nightclub massacre early Sunday morning.
This editorial was written by the Las Cruces Sun-News.