SRU Veterans Club salutes ‘Old Glory’
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - While any day is appropriate to display Old Glory, the Slippery Rock University Veterans' Club is urging residents throughout the region to make a special effort to display the U.S. flag on Flag Day, June 14.
"This is a great time to honor the flag and all that it stands for," said John Beckage, a parks and resource management major from Murraysville and president of the SRU Veterans' Club.
Pennsylvania was the first U.S. state to celebrate Flag Day as a state holiday in 1937.
Beckage said that historical connection to the flag makes its even more important for Pennsylvania residents to display the flag on Flag Day.
"While there are frequent news items concerning U.S. flag burnings as a means of protest, as a veteran I work to discourage such activities because I find them personally offensive, but as a veteran and as an American, I realize at the same time that the U.S. Supreme Court has issued decisions giving protesters Constitutional rights. Our service men and women fought - and some died for - to preserve all of our Constitutional freedoms. So I say Flag Day is a perfect way for Americans to salute their flag and to show their own support of veterans while simultaneously saluting the rights of all citizens," he said.
"It is also a great opportunity for parents to spend some time with their children talking about the U.S. flag, American citizenship, what the flag represents and the sacrifices veterans made to keep American free," he said.
The design of the U.S. flag was adopted in 1777 by resolution of the Second Continental Congress. President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation establishing Flag Day as June 14 in 1916, and Congress established National Flag Day in 1949 as an official salute to the American flag. It did not, however, set the day as a national holiday.
"The red stripes of the U.S. flag represent the blood the patriots sacrificed during the Revolutionary War; the white stripes denote the purity of the cause of freedom; and the blue field of stars honors 'truth,'" said Alan Levy, SRU history professor who specializes in American history.
While the original 13 strips and 13 stars represent the original 13 colonies, Levy said, "As additional states joined the Union, first Kentucky and Vermont, a stripe and a star were added. But, later when a larger number of states joined near-simultaneously, it became readily apparent that the stripes were becoming too thin, so the decision was made to go back to the original 13 stripes to represent the original colonies and simply add a star for each new state."
He said as a youngster, he remembered the U.S. flag as always containing 48 stars, and recalls when Alaska became a state he saw the 49th star added, "And that made a very nice display of seven rows of seven stars," he said.
"Then a year later, in 1959, Hawaii join the union, and the 50th star, as is today's flag, was added," he said.
Levy said the long-told tale of Betsy Ross sewing the first flag remains unchanged by history. "[Gen. George] Washington wanted the flag to help increase troop morale," Levy said. "He and those of the day saw the flag as a standard to be inspired by in their fight for freedom."
In proclaiming June 14, 2015, as Flag Day, Barack Obama, president of the United States, said, "I call upon all Americans to observe Flag Day and National Flag Week by displaying the flag. I also call upon the people of the United States to observe with pride and all due ceremony those days from Flag Day through Independence Day, also set aside by the Congress (89 Stat. 211), as a time to honor America, to celebrate our heritage in public gatherings and activities, and to publicly recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.
The U.S. Flag Code formalizes and unifies the traditional ways in which people are expected to give respect to the flag. Rules for handling and displaying the U.S. flag are available at: http://www.usflag.org/flagetiquette.html.
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