A tradition dating back to 1985 will be continued next week when the Highland County Honor Guard holds a flag retirement ceremony on Flag Day, Tuesday, June 14, at 1 p.m. at the AmVets Park pavilion off North Shore Drive.
Honor guard member Gerold Wilkin said area residents can drop off worn out flags at that time, or before then 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.
The local public ceremony alternates each year between the AmVets Post and VFW Post. Wilkin said this year’s ceremony will be like past ones that have featured a flag folding presentation with an explanation of what each fold means. A flag is usually properly retired and there is patriotic music, readings, refreshments and more.
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 – the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777 – 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 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.