Greg Murphy, Special to The Express
On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution approving the design of a national flag. To this day, no one is exactly sure who designed the first flag. According to legend President George Washington commissioned seamstress Betsy Ross to create a flag, but the Library of Congress reports that scholars actually credit the flag’s design to Francis Hopkinson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, a lawyer and member of the Continental Congress.
There have been 27 official versions of the US flag, each having a different arrangement of the stars, until 1912 when President Taft standardized the then-new flag’s forty- eight stars into six rows of eight. Stars, representing each state, are added to the US flag on July 4th. The current version of the US Flag dates back to July 4, 1960.
The country began celebrating Flag Day back in 1916 when President Wooddrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation establishing a national Flag Day on June 14. Flag Day was signed into law by President Harry Truman in 1949. The legislation also requires the president to issue a Flag Day proclamation every year. Believe it or not, Pennsylvania is the only state in 2020 that recognizes Flag Day as a state holiday. Quincy, Massachusetts claims to have the longest continuous Flag Day parade in our country.
There are eight places in the United States where official proclamations and laws have stated a US flag must be flown 24 hours a day. They are: Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine; Flag House Square;(Baltimore, Maryland); Unites States Marine Corps Memorial; on the Green in Lexington, Massachusetts; The White House; the Washington Monument; United States Customs Ports of Entry; and the grounds of the National Memorial Arch in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
Back in 1942 The Federal Flag Code, which provided uniform guidelines for the proper display and respect shown to the flag, was approved by President Franklin Roosevelt. According to the US Flag Code, “The flag represents a living country and itself considered a living thing” and therefore must be taken care of properly. The US flag should not touch the ground and must be illuminated if flown 24/7. When used on a speaker’s platform, the flag is displayed on the speaker’s far right side as he/she faces the audience. All these laws and regulations pertaining to the flag are found in the Unites States Code, a rather lengthy document, which is divided into 50 titles.
“The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.” The US Flag Code does not actually give specifics on how to destroy the flag. Common sense should be used to make sure the procedures are in good taste and shows no disrespect for the flag.
The Whitman American Legion collects unserviceable flags and performs a flag burning ceremony every Flag Day The public is invited to join us in this solemn ceremony at our post on Legion Parkway to honor our flag in fitting respect on Flag Day 2021.