Flag

A flag flies over Kessel Athletic Complex in Bradford.

Today is Flag Day — meant to observe the anniversary of the official adoption of the Stars and Stripes as the symbol of the United States of America on this day in 1777.

Flag Day is not a federal holiday, but it is a state holiday in both Pennsylvania and New York.

“The flag holds a much deeper meaning for the veteran in McKean County. It not only symbolizes patriotism and devotion for our country, but for our veterans it symbolizes the sacrifices that they and their brothers and sisters have made for their country,” said Zachariah J. Pearson, director of Veterans Services for McKean County. “You will not walk into a VFW or American Legion in McKean County without a strong presence of an American Flag.

“Before every ceremony or meeting they have, they pledge allegiance to it. The United States flag holds memories and reminders of their service and sacrifice,” he continued. “It would be easy to say that US Flag is a piece of history they can carry with them as a token for what they went through in any era of military service.”

Pearson also notes that, for those who proudly display the American Flag, there comes a time when the flag will require repair or disposal thanks to the continuous exposure to the elements. For those looking for tips on how to handle that disposal, Pearson had this to say.

“I recommend people that are attempting to dispose of an old weathered flag that they drop them off at their local VFW or American Legion for proper disposal,” he said. “It’s also important to remind everyone that flies a flag to fly it with respect. If it becomes torn or frayed, I recommend removing it until it can be replaced. If able, you should light the flag at night time and always always always fly the American flag at the top of a flag pole over any other flag.”

The US flag is an easily recognized but perhaps not fully appreciated symbol of our nation.

A statement on Military.com notes: June 14th is “set aside to honor another veteran — a faithful comrade who has accompanied each of us — every service member before us, to battlefields and stations in virtually every corner of the globe. For more than two centuries this veteran has always been there with us — always faithful and this vet is always ready for a parade. Our friend was there out at the cemetery last Monday when we were too busy. Not to fret, he was present and accounted for standing tall on Armed Forces Day as well. In fact our friend is always there, and in fact, often overlooked and taken for granted.

“Of course I am speaking of Old Glory, our flag. Always faithful and decked out in full glorious parade dress uniform! Our friend has guided and comforted countless numbers of our comrades in arms through the best and the worst of times.”

Pennsylvania began observing Flag Day in 1893 after a series of events started by the historian of the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolution, Col. J. Granville Leach, recommending the US flag be flown by the Philadelphia mayor, other authorities and private citizens on this day. The Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames adopted a resolution to that effect, and the action was endorsed by the Board of Managers of the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolution. Meanwhile, Philadelphia Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Edward Brooks followed this sequence and decided to organize Flag Day exercises for the children. Each child was given a small flag and patriotic songs were performed. Various celebrations followed in different locations.

Over the course of several decades, three US Presidents made proclamations before the significance of the day gained wider recognition. President Woodrow Wilson was the first to make a proclamation on May 30, 1916. President Calvin Coolidge next made a similar proclamation in 1927.

Finally, President Harry S. Truman signed the national observance of the holiday into law in 1949. Although, in an interesting aside, Flag Day was left out of the 1968 Uniform Holiday Act so it is not a federal holiday that is celebrated in the same manner as Memorial Day or Labor Day.

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