A light rain gave way to sunny skies Sunday as Flag Day exercises unfolded in Highland County.
The day started with a 1 p.m. flag raising ceremony at the Hillsboro Elks and concluded with a 3 p.m. flag retirement exercise at the Highland County AMVETS.
Members of the Highland County Veterans Honor Guard conducted the ceremony at the Hillsboro Elks, where a new flag was placed in front of the lodge, there was a rifle salute, Taps were played and there were words from honor guard member Gerold Wilkin about flag etiquette.
Flag Day ceremonies rotate back and forth each year between Hillsboro VFW Post 9094 and the local AMVETS, but the flag raising at the Elks was a new twist to the tradition. Wilkin said the VFW Post donated the flag to the Elks, but in return the Elks planned to make a donation to the honor guard.
Wilkin said area residents can drop off worn out flags in boxes that are in place in the foyers at the AMVETS and Hillsboro VFW locations. He said used flags can also be taken to the Highland County Veterans Service Office for proper disposal.
Starting in 1985, late Hillsboro resident Norman DeHaas organized Flag Day ceremonies in Highland County that included erecting a new flag and flag pole at the location where the ceremonies were held. After organizing the event for 19 years, DeHaas passed away and his family continued the ceremonies for a few years until the AmVets and VFW took them over.
Flag Day is celebrated on June 14 each year. The day that also serves as the birthday of the U.S. Army.
Flag Day commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on June 14, 1777 by a resolution of the Second Continental Congress.
The idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the flag is believed to have first originated in 1885. BJ Cigrand, a school teacher, arranged for the pupils in the Fredonia, Wisc. Public School District to observe June 14 (the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes) as “Flag Birthday.” In numerous magazines, newspaper articles and public addresses over the following years, Cigrand continued to advocate the observance of June 14 as “Flag Birthday” or “Flag Day,” according to the website usflag.org.
On June 14, 1889, George Balch, a kindergarten teacher in New York City, planned ceremonies for the children of his school, and his idea of observing Flag Day was later adopted by the State Board of Education of New York. On June 14, 1891, the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia held a Flag Day celebration, and on June 14 the following year, the New York Society of the Sons of the Revolution celebrated Flag Day, the website says.
Other June 14 observances started in New York and Pennsylvania, then in 1894 the governor of New York directed that on June 14 the flag be displayed on all public buildings. An Illinois organization known as the American Flag Day Association was organized for the purpose of promoting Flag Day exercises on June 14 and that same year, according to the website, the first general public school children’s celebration of Flag Day in Chicago was held in several parks with more than 300,000 children participating.
The website says that Franklin K. Lane, secretary of the interior, delivered a 1914 Flag Day address in which he repeated words he said the flag had spoken to him that morning: “I am what you make me; nothing more. I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of color, a symbol of yourself.”
Flag Day was officially established by a proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30, 1916. While Flag Day was celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson’s proclamation, it was not until Aug. 3, 1949, that President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14 of each year as National Flag Day.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.