Meaning Of American Flag Day
For more than one hundred years, the meaning of American Flag Day has never diminished and grows increasingly more significant in light of twenty-first century global unrest. Conceived in 1885 by Wisconsin schoolteacher B.J. Cigrand as an annual holiday to celebrate the national symbol of the United States, Flag Day is observed on June 14th of each year. The first celebration by Cigrand and his Fredonia, Wisconsin public school students commemorated the 108th anniversary of the first Act passed by the Continental Congress to establish a national banner for the newly formed United States. The Act of June 14, 1777 resolved that the official banner be designed with thirteen alternating red and white stripes and thirteen white stars, representing a new Constellation of the thirteen colonies, stitched on a blue background. The 1777 Congressional resolution laid the foundation for the meaning of American Flag Day by emphasizing a strong union of those thirteen colonies, forever linked together by the threads of a fledgling Democracy.
Cigrand's vigilant campaign to convince others to celebrate Flag Day on June 14th soon paid off. George Balch, a New York City kindergarten teacher observed the holiday in 1889 and the New York State Board of Education soon followed suit. Two years later, Philadelphia's Betsy Ross House, named after the seamstress credited with sewing the first American flag, began holding annual observances. Meanwhile, the New York Society of the Sons of the Revolution (SSR) caught the vision and began celebrations in 1892. Colonel J. Granville Leach, historian of the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolution, also convinced SSR's sister association to join in the campaign to lead the city of Philadelphia to officially celebrate the holiday on June 14, 1893. Three decades after Cigrand's noble efforts to push commemorating the 18th century birth of the "Stars and Stripes;" on May 30, 1916, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson officially established the holiday as a national observance. Another three decades passed before President Harry Truman signed a Congressional Act proclaiming June 14th as National Flag Day.
Historically, the meaning of American Flag Day has never been more significant than in times of war and global terrorism. In World War II, battle weary U.S. soldiers raised the American banner over Iwo Jima, Japan, signaling a victorious end of a conflict began when Japanese forces bombed the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Almost an exact replica of the historical scene at Iwo Jima was repeated on September 11, 2001, after two hijacked airliners struck the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center. Three firefighters, weary from battling the still smoking debris, raised the "Stars and Stripes" in obstinate defiance of the terrorists responsible for taking the lives of nearly 3,000 innocent civilians in the early morning attack. And while many dispute the validity of the War in Iraq, the meaning of American Flag Day continues to spur battle weary U.S. troops to continue to engage in armed conflict for what many have called, "a fight for democracy."
When faced with individual battles or those on a national scale, God is well able to defend those who belong to Him. And when seen and unseen forces threaten to take away peace, liberty, or life; the Holy Spirit lifts up a standard, or flag, against them. God's Word offers encouragement for those who face difficult natural or spiritual battles: "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him" (Isaiah 59:19b). "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, though the mountains be cast into the midst of the sea;" (Psalms 46:1-2).
To keep patriotism and a love for democracy alive, Americans can send free Flag Day e-cards to one another on June 14th of each year. E-cards are beautifully illustrated with professional photos of "Old Glory" in all her majesty. An ideal gift for soldiers fighting in Iraq, free Flag Day e-cards serve to encourage America's warriors to continue standing against terrorism at home and abroad. Spouses of service men and women will be encouraged and their spirits lifted by whimsical and lighthearted e-cards. School aged children can continue the legacy of B.J. Cigrand's public school pupils by making a tradition of celebrating June 14th by sending free e-cards to pen pals, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Youngsters can go online to e-card publisher websites, select electronic greetings, and personalize them with special messages and photos to encourage American military personnel or correspond with parents serving abroad, free of charge.
Free Flag Day e-cards can be sent to multiple recipients at the same time all over the world. Unlike using the U.S. postal service, senders can e-mail as many cards as they like and get responses in minutes from delighted recipients. Rather than text messaging or telephoning family and friends via long distance, talkative teens and out-of-state college kids can avoid cell phone fees with free e-cards. Teens can type in unlimited text messages and add photos and graphics, animated cartoons, or sound to e-cards without spending a cent. The only requirement is that recipients have access to email and the Internet. A novel idea for foreign exchange students, traveling business associates, and flight attendants is to send an electronic card from far away destinations to loved ones to inform them of a safe arrival. Families, spouses, and loved ones will know immediately that all is well when free Flag Day e-cards show up in the recipient's e-mail. To keep the meaning of American Flag Day alive, all it takes is a patriotic spirit, Internet access, and a love for the red, white and blue!
Meaning Of Memorial DayThe history of Memorial Day goes back in United States American history to just after the Civil War. Southern ladies in the south would visit the graves of Confederate soldiers and place flowers there to remember their sacrifice and bravery, to protect the freedoms for which they fought. Those in the north would also visit the graves of the sons who lost their life protecting those at home. Soon after, around 1868 many came to Arlington National Cemetery to lay down gifts of flowers there to remember the heroes who died in the Civil War. Ever since that time, people have yearly remembered those fallen for the sake of freedom. It wasn't until the mid-1960's that Memorial Day became a national holiday in the U.S.A. The meaning of Memorial Day is "Decoration Day", when the graves were decorated with flowers to honor the soldiers who fought and died for this country.
The southern states were the last to join in celebrating the meaning of Memorial Day with the northern states, and some states still have separate days of remembrance in addition to Memorial Day. At first the remembrance was just for those who died in the Civil War, and then it gradually came to also remember and respect those who have fallen in any war since that time. In 1915 a poet wrote a short verse that included the poppy as a symbol of the blood that was shed during the wars. Ever since that time, the idea has spread across the world. Various organizations have taken her idea and now wear poppies on lapels and shirts when raising money for those affected by the war. This is why today, when a person gives donations to the VFW or other organizations, an artificial poppy will be handed to the donor to honor the history of Memorial Day.
In recent decades, the holiday has been relegated to being celebrated on the last Monday in the Month of May, instead of on May 30th. The Federal Government did this in order to extend the weekend. Many people feel that this takes away from the solemnity of this time as one of remembrance, and want to help remind the American people about what it is for. The meaning of Memorial Day is not to celebrate, but to remember and honor those who have fallen in duty to country. There are several organizations like the Boy and Girl Scouts of America who yearly place small flags on the graves in Washington D.C. About 1200 soldiers also do this every year. In 2000 our government created a "National Day of Remembrance" to get back on track remembering soldiers who have died in the wars over the years. However it seems that every year fewer and fewer cities are taking the time to remember the history of Memorial Day and the meaning of Memorial Day, and instead use it as a way to have fun and make money.
One way to keep this holiday honorable would be to set aside some time for the family to visit a cemetery, and place flowers on the graves of soldiers who have died in the wars across the decades. Have a moment of silence and even pray for the families who lost loved ones. Do not let the holiday pass without having everyone in the family understand the meaning of Memorial Day and the history of Memorial Day. Reminders of wars past and present are everywhere around us. Veterans have lost body parts and now must live life in wheelchairs, crippled by the sacrifice made for this country. If the opportunity presents itself, say a thank you to these people, for it may be the only time anyone has recognized the individual's sacrifice. Remember to honor them and the flag when they pass by in parades and in ceremonies. One day a fallen veteran could be someone very close. In the Bible, it speaks of Jesus Christ, who gave His life so that others could live and have eternal life. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16 KJV).
Churches often take time to remember soldiers who have given lives for the sake of country by a moment of silence, and also have those who are currently serving the U.S.A. to stand and be noticed. There may be a flag ceremony as well. Some cities have gun salutes, read the Gettysburg Address and then visit graves in local cemeteries. Choirs sing patriotic songs and say thank you to everyone who is alive who served in the armed forces. Perhaps this day would be a good time to find some books written by people who have served in the armed forces, and actually had combat experience. Doing this gives people a first-hand appreciation of the sacrifices American men and women have made for all Americans. Even other countries recall those who have died in service to country, and Belgium has a memorial in the Ardenne region specifically made for those American soldiers who died defending Belgium from Nazi Germany.
The Belgian memorial is in the shape of a many pointed star. On each side of each point of the star is written a state in the U.S.A. Inside is a war museum with movies and war memorabilia showing the sacrifices made by American men and women during World War II. If other countries can make the time to remember those who have fallen, how much more then should Americans take the time to solemnly remember the meaning of this holiday and those who made the greatest sacrifice of all?