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Tuesday Trivia: Oh, say can you see ...

J. H. Osborne • Updated Jun 12, 2018 at 11:18 AM

Today’s Tuesday Trivia tackles the topic of Flag Day, which this year falls on Thursday.

The public is invited to mark the day by joining a Flag Day Program and Retirement at 6 p.m. on Thursday at Andrew Johnson National Cemetery, 121 Monument Ave., Greeneville.

Upon President Andrew Johnson’s death in 1875, one of his final wishes was that his body be wrapped in the U.S. flag. In keeping with this deep reverence of our flag, the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site will present the evening program, which includes a demonstration of the proper way to retire a flag and the opportunity for public participation.

Visitors are invited to explore and discover more about the origins, history, and etiquette of the U.S. flag in addition to taking part in the flag retirement ceremony.

The U.S. Flag Code states, “When a flag is worn beyond repair, it shall be retired in a dignified manner, the preferred method is by burning.” The retirement ceremony will fulfill this requirement.

The Andrew Johnson National Historic Site encourages visitors of all ages, especially Scouts and other youth organizations from the community, to attend the program.

For more information, please contact the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site Visitor Center at (423) 638-3551.

Here’s a bit of background on how our nation’s flag came to be and how it came to be celebrated on June 14.

• On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, passed the Flag Act of 1777, a resolution creating an official flag for a new nation still struggling to gain its independence from Britain. It stated, in part, that America’s flag “…be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”

• The design pretty much remained the same for about 17 years. The first significant change came in January 1794, when two stars and two stripes were added to reflect the recent admissions of Kentucky and Vermont to the Union. It was this 15-star, 15-stripe flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem that later became known as the Star-Spangled Banner, after seeing it fly over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.

• In 1818, another design went into effect, permanently setting the number of stripes at 13 (in honor of the original colonies) and allowing for new stars to be added ceremonially each July 4 should a new state be admitted.

• June 14 is special from another aspect of American history. While the 1777 resolution establishing a national flag was the impetus for the national holiday known as Flag Day, that date also holds great significance for the U.S. Army. Two years earlier, just weeks after the Battles of Lexington and Concord kicked off the American Revolution, the Congress formally authorized the enlistment of soldiers to fight in what became known as the Continental Army. So this Thursday, remember to wish the U.S. Army a happy 241st birthday.

• It took more than a century after the creation of America’s flag for anyone to suggest a holiday to honor it. In 1885, a Wisconsin grade-school teacher named Bernard Cigrand held what’s believed to be the first recognized Flag Day, which began a lifelong quest to establish a formal holiday. President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling for a June 14 commemoration in 1916, but it wasn’t until 1949, 16 years after the death of Cigrand, the “father of Flag Day,” that Congress passed legislation establishing a national holiday. It is not, however, a federal holiday. In fact, it’s only an official holiday in any capacity in one state. Perhaps fittingly, it’s Pennsylvania, where the flag was officially created and legend holds (though it’s wholly unsubstantiated) that local seamstress Betsy Ross sewed the original flag.

Source for above points: www.history.com.

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