CHARLESTON, W.Va. – On June 14, 2015, Americans will observe the 99th United States Flag Day. Though the roots of this patriotic occasion extend as far back as 1855 when a Wisconsin school teacher and his students first honored the flag’s birthday, it was President Woodrow Wilson who made the observance official by proclamation in 1916.
President Wilson and the founders of Flag Day recognized the creators of Old Glory took great care in considering every aspect of our nation’s emblem. Like many of us, those founders recalled with great pride the symbolism of our flag’s design and wanted to instill that pride and an understanding of the flag’s significance in future generations.
We are taught that the thirteen stripes represent the thirteen original colonies and the fifty stars stand as symbols of each state. The red represents valor; white stands for purity; and blue for perseverance and justice. We are also taught to treat Old Glory with the highest levels of respect, never allowing it to touch the ground and ensuring it is displayed appropriately.
For those who have fought, or are currently fighting, to protect all that those stars and stripes represent, even the folding of our flag carries weight. It is an important part of the Honors provided at a veteran’s memorial service, and it is an inspiring display of respect for our nation, service members and the flag itself. The first fold represents life, while the third honors the veteran who has departed and the fifth is a tribute to our Country –to identify just a few of the fold’s meanings. Each fold is placed against the next with absolute precision and the flag is presented to the next of kin as an enduring reminder of their loved one who served our country.
I’m sure these facts, the symbolism and history associated with the flag will fill our minds as we reminisce on its origins and meanings this weekend at parades and other ceremonies throughout the state. Still, none of that knowledge can capture or express the patriotism that fills our hearts when we gaze upon the symbol of our nation’s freedom. I encourage each of you to pause and reflect on what the American flag means in your life as we observe its 238th birthday.
# # #