June is here and brings with it the beginning of summer and other celebratory events.
Tomorrow, June 14, is Flag Day and the 244th birthday of the United States Army.
The Second Continental Congress passed a resolution in 1777 wherein the flag of the United States was formally approved that year on June 14. President Woodrow Wilson officially established June 14 as Flag Day via proclamation in 1916 and an act of Congress established National Flag Day in 1946.
Flag Day is not a national holiday; however, the president has the option to officially proclaim its observance.
Flag Day may suffer neglect in some locales, probably because it falls between Memorial Day and Independence Day, but several municipalities take their Flag Day seriously.
Pennsylvania made Flag Day a state holiday in 1937. Not to be outdone by their neighbor, New York made the second Sunday in June a state holiday to celebrate Flag Day.
There are several claims to the first, the longest and the largest Flag Day celebrations.
Appleton, Wisconsin, claims to have the oldest Flag Day parade, having started theirs in 1950 and continued every year since. However, Fairfield, Washington’s, Flag Day parades have been celebrated annually since 1909 or 1910, with the exception of 1918.
“The longest running parade of its kind” is asserted by the citizens of Quincy, Massachusetts. They have had a Flag Day parade every year since 1952.
Troy, New York, did not begin its Flag Day parade as early as Quincy, but it advertises the largest parade in the nation that draws over 50,000 spectators each year.
Three Oaks, Michigan, celebrates Flag Day with a three-day event and argues its parade is the largest and oldest.
Regardless of which American town had the first or has the longest or the largest Flag Day celebration, all Americans can proudly claim their love of country and its flag on any day.
Even those who burn, tear down, stomp on or spit upon Old Glory can celebrate their freedom to do so in an country whose laws protect their right to protest.
We are not a perfect country and we never will be. However, we are the best country in the world. Otherwise, why do we have so many foreigners trying to immigrate to America, legally and illegally?
George Orwell is credited with saying, “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” I interpret that to mean the men and women who patrol the streets and those in the armed forces of the United States.
Our flag and country are protected by young men and women who take up the profession of arms and those who become peace officers; many do both.
Less than one-half of 1 percent of our young people volunteer to serve in the armed forces. The majority of those will join the United States Army, the largest and oldest branch of service (a fact I have to remind my Marine brothers and sisters of from time to time).
Over 1 million soldiers today serve in the regular Army, the Army National Guard, and the Army Reserves. The United States Army traces its roots back to the Continental Army, formed on June 14, 1775, to fight against the British during the Revolutionary War.
Years ago, while I was attending the Metropolitan Police Department academy as a 47-year-old recruit, a classmate posed what I thought was an ordinary question when he asked me, “Jennings, you were a captain in the Army?”
“Yes,” I casually replied to my classmate, a Marine.
He then asked, to the delight of the rest of the class, “Well, were you a captain in the Union or Confederate Army?”
I am a soldier and proud of my 22 years of active and reserve duty from 1970-1992. However, had I been born a century earlier, I would have been a Union or Confederate soldier.
Happy 244th birthday, United States Army.
Please celebrate Flag Day and every day safely.
Dan Jennings is a retired Army captain and a retired BCPD lieutenant. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.