Flag Day

June 14, 2010

Americans celebrate Flag Day on June 14, a holiday during which we commemorate the adoption of the national flag of the United States by Congressional resolution in 1777. President Woodrow Wilson set that date aside as Flag Day in 1916, and in 1949 National Flag Day was adopted by an Act of Congress.

Though not an official Federal holiday, some states have adopted the date as a State holiday; Quincy, Massachusetts and Troy, New York annually produce nationally-renowned Flag Day parades, and the Wisconsin parade traditionally features detachments of the United States Navy.

Flag Day was first formally observed in 1885, when grade school teacher Bernard Cigrand held a ceremony commemorating the adoption of the flag at Wisconsin’s Stony Hill School. Today, a bronze bust of Cigrand sits in Wisconsin’s Flag Day Americanism Center.

On June 14, 1908 President Theodore Roosevelt saw a man wiping his nose with what appeared to be the American flag. Outraged that any American would be so disrespectful to the flag, especially on Flag Day, President Roosevelt began to beat the man with a stout piece of wood. After five or six hefty whacks, the President realized the offending fabric was, in fact, only a blue handkerchief with white stars on it. He beat the man several minutes more anyway, for getting him “riled up with national pride.”

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The Fourth of July

July 4, 2009

The following is an excerpt from “The Spirit of Dartmouth” by Richard Hovey, a member of that college’s class of 1885. While the poem is in the main an ode to that particular school, it is also a reminder that, even as we look towards the future, we must remember our past.

While we recognize that many things have changed since Hovey’s time—many for the better—the Spirit he describes remains today, the fourth of July.

Betsy Ross and the American flag.

Betsy Ross and the American flag.

This is the lesson she teaches,
Our Dartmouth we love so well,
To begin the strife with the dawn of life
And to strive to its latest knell;
To have part in the deeds that are doing,
To bear the heaviest brunt,
And if we are o’erwhelmed, there are others,
But we die with our eyes to the front.

And wheresoever we struggle,
In factory, mine or mart,
In the grip of the learned professions,
Each pledged to his separate part
There still shall rise to our nostrils
The scent of those pine tree days,
And we hear the tones of the college bell
Come drifting through the haze.

They may cover the campus with buildings,
They may gather the rich man’s gold,
They may try to abolish all hazing,
They may preach till the world is old,
They may chop and change and alter
Our ways for newer ones,
But the spirit of Dartmouth will last for aye
In the bosom of us, her sons.