News-Miner opinion: Today is Flag Day across the nation, a date set when President Harry Truman put his signature on legislation marking a date on which the American flag is to be proudly and openly displayed by all.
Flag Day had semi-official status annually since 1916, when President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation establishing it. Congress made it official by approving a resolution on Aug. 3, 1949, and sending the measure to President Truman. The congressional resolution was simple:
“Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the 14th day of June of each year is hereby designated as “Flag Day,” and the President of the United States is authorized and requested to issue annually a proclamation calling upon officials of the Government to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on such day, and urging the people to observe the day as the anniversary of the adoption on June 14, 1777, by the Continental Congress of the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the United States of America.”
President Truman made the first proclamation of the official Flag Day the following year, writing a few weeks ahead of June 14 that “the annual celebration of the birthday of our flag is a cherished national custom.”
The president’s proclamation continued, noting that “the flag arouses in the hearts of Americans deep sentiments of gratitude for the freedom it symbolizes and for the protection from tyranny it assures ... and I urge the people of our Nation to observe that day as the anniversary of the adoption on June 14, 1777, by the Continental Congress, of the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the United States of America, by flying the flag at their homes or other suitable places and by participating in ceremonies especially designed to honor our national emblem.”
It was on that June 14, 1777, that the Second Continental Congress, which existed from 1775-1781 and consisted of roughly 60 members, met in Philadelphia and adopted the design of the national flag and approved other measures. The flag design is mentioned in one sentence and is found between an item about “directions respecting the continental ships of war in the river Delaware” and an item about Capt. John Roach being “a person of doubtful character” who shouldn’t be entrusted with command of the continental warship the Ranger.
The flag reference reads in the journal of the Continental Congress as follows:
“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.”
Many stars have been added to that blue field since that day nearly 21/2 centuries ago, making that constellation so much grander.
So unfurl your flag today. Show it off for all to see.