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Significance of flag celebrated

June 15, 2004|by Ryan C. Tuck

ryant@herald-mail.com

After lining city streets for last week's funeral proceedings for President Reagan, American flags stayed out and at half-staff Monday as the nation celebrated Flag Day.

The national holiday is celebrated every June 14 to commemorate the anniversary of the official adoption of the Stars and Stripes in 1777.

"The value of the flag is not really found in the fabric but is found in its meanings of liberty and freedom," Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, said Monday during a ceremony marking the day at Hagerstown City Hall.

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"During times of terrorism here and abroad, it is even more important that we pause and remember what our flag represents," McKee said.

McKee spoke before a group that included council members Carol Moller and N. Linn Hindershot, Miss Maryland Marina Harrison, the contestants for Miss Maryland and members of Boy Scout Troop 2. The Miss Maryland Pageant begins Thursday night at The Maryland Theatre.

Veteran groups across the country celebrated the holiday. For the 15,000 American Legion posts across the country, the day provides an opportunity to honorably dispose of flags that have become unusable, said Mike Buss, the American Legion's assistant director for Americanism and Children and Youth.

Buss said the flag is significant to veterans.

"When I was abroad and would see (the flag), it would remind me of home and how we are free from oppression," he said.

It is believed that the roots of Flag Day can be traced to Fredonia, Wis., where in 1885, public schoolteacher B.J. Cigrand celebrated June 14 as the flag's birthday. In 1891, the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia took up the observance. Ross is believed to have made the first American flag with stars and stripes.

June 14 officially was established as Flag Day through an act of Congress on Aug. 3, 1949, by President Truman.

Flag Day is only celebrated once a year, but those involved emphasized the importance of honoring the flag all year long.

"Every day we have a duty to honor the flag," McKee said.

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