Guest Editorial: Flag Day has roots in Wisconsin“Resolved that the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes alternate red and white: that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
By: Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar, Superior Telegram
“Resolved that the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes alternate red and white: that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
With those words, on June 14, 1777, John Adams and the Continental Congress authorized a new banner to symbolize a fledgling nation. One hundred and eight years later, Bernard Cigrand — the youngest son of Luxembourg immigrants — perched a small flag on his desk at the front of a one-room schoolhouse in Waubeka, Wis., and asked his students to write an essay on what the U.S. flag meant to them. The next year, Cigrand called for an annual observance of the birth of the flag in an article published in the Chicago Argus.
What is it about a piece of cloth that merits a day of celebration?
I would suggest that Flag Day is less about the fabric of the star-spangled banner and more about the fabric of our great nation. The U.S. flag, quite simply, reflects our nation, our values, our character and our potential.
Millions of individual threads woven together, create a strong bond that doesn’t easily unravel. What a wonderful metaphor for our nation — born of inspired ideals and courageous action, reinforced by waves of immigrants in search of a better life, melting together generation by generation, through crises, war and controversy — but always striving and always improving. A flag worthy of our republic built on individual freedom and individual responsibility.
Francis Scott Key, when he saw the flag still flew over Fort McHenry in 1814, was inspired to write a poem that became our National Anthem.
President Woodrow Wilson, who issued a proclamation in 1916 establishing Flag Day as an annual national observation, had this to say: “Old Glory, this flag which we honor and under which we serve, is the emblem of our unity, our power, our thoughts and purposes as a nation.”
Our flag, more than anything else, is a symbol of hope and freedom. The U.S. flags on the moon are not a symbol of conquest, but achievement born of that freedom. Our pledge of allegiance is an agreement with what the flag represents.
Flag Day coincides with another patriotic anniversary. On June 14, 1775, the Continental Congress formally established a Continental Army. Today the U.S. Army, which bears our flag in peace and in war, observes June 14 as its official birthday. The Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 7,700 plus citizen-soldiers celebrate this heritage and proudly served our nation and this flag since 1848 when Wisconsin was admitted to the Union.
I invite you to take a moment and reflect on what we stand for as a nation, and the flag that so simply and elegantly conveys that message to the world.
Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar is adjutant general of Wisconsin.