A week from today (June 14th) is Flag Day. This marks the beginning of summer for many public schools. The significance of the date which we celebrate Flag Day dates back to 1777 when the Continental Congress proposed that the United States have a national flag instead of the British Union Jack. There were few public ceremonies honoring the flag until 1877, when on, June 14th, it was flown from every government building in honor of the centennial of the adoption of a national flag. The first official Flag Day was observed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1893. New York also proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day 1897. Other states were slow to follow. Some people thought that the day was too close to Memorial Day and Independence Day, but soon all states followed suit.
It should be remembered that we should hang our national flag out in celebration of one of our nation’s beloved symbol. Surprisingly enough, the United States did not even have a national standardized flag until 1912. It was called the “Stars and Stripes” or “Old Glory” and no other flag in the world required 64 pieces of fabric to create a flag. Our current national flag has 13 red stripes and white alternation stripes representing the original 13 colonies which eventually became states. There are 50 white stars on a blue background representing all of the states in the Union in the present day.
Inspired by these three decades of state and local celebrations, Flag Day, the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777, was officially established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30th, 1916. While Flag Day was celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson’s proclamation, it was not until August 3rd, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day and encouraged all Americans in the country to display the Stars and Stripes outside their homes and businesses.
Living close to the gulf, there are other flags we are to pay attention to in the summer. When visiting the beach there are warning flags. The green flag means the water is safe. The yellow flag means take precaution when swimming and the red flag means swimming is unsafe. By communicating these warnings to those who visit the beach, we know how to proceed and what we are allowed to do to keep ourselves safe while we are swimming.
In life we are given the same warning signs. From scripture reading we have the Ten Commandments to warn us in what is appropriate behavior how we can treat each other. At church, we have our leaders to remind us of the dangers in the world with uplifting messages of what is important.
From another talk about flags and safety given at a BYU Devotional for students on June 30, 2009, Associate Professor Lynette B. Ericskon said: “Inspired leaders have warned of the importance of protecting our bodies, minds, and spirits from those influences that would harm us or diminish our ability to stay on course. Just as the race car driver wears a sturdy helmet and clothing appropriate for his task, we are admonished to gird ourselves in the whole armor of God in our dress, in our thoughts, and in our actions.”
Our flags of summer are very significant both in showing our patriotism and heeding the warnings for a safe life. Just like those beach flags, we need to remember to be safe. If we heed these summer messages, and follow the flags of warning, we will create a life of freedom and security for ourselves and for our children.
Valerie Steimle has been writing as a family advocate for over 25 years. As a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she promotes Christian living in her writings and is the mother of nine children and grandmother to twelve. Mrs. Steimle authored six books and is a contributing writer to several online websites. To her, time is the most precious commodity we have and knows we should spend it wisely. To read more of Valerie's work, visit her at her website, The Blessings of Family Life.