National Holiday: Wave Red, White And Blue

MONDAY, JUNE 14: Americans wave red, white and blue today as they celebrate Flag Day. Attendees of the annual Flag Day Parade in Fairfield, WA, will honor the parade’s centennial anniversary this year! Many also will gather to witness the country’s largest Flag Day parade in Troy, NY, and still others will pay tribute to the flag at the Betsy Ross house in Philadelphia, where the State of Pennsylvania holds its official observance. (Pennsylvania is the only state to declare Flag Day an official state holiday. Read more at Wikipedia.)

Flag Day isn’t a federal holiday and there’s no day off work, but millions of Americans do salute this important American symbol today. (Check out some neat paintings, photographs and facts about Flag Day from the Library of Congress.)

Surprisingly enough, although the American flag was adopted by the Second Continental Congress in 1777, an official “flag birthday” wasn’t established by Congress until 1949. Now, the entire week of June 14 is known as “National Flag Week,” and during this week all citizens are encouraged to fly an American flag at their home, place of work or both. (Try being patriotic by whipping up this delicious flag cake, courtesy of Kraft Recipes.)

Many countries have national flags that include religious affiliation, such as Greece’s use of a Greek Orthodox cross on its flag and India’s inclusion of the Wheel of Dharma in the middle of its flag. (View more flags—and their symbols—at Wikipedia.) The United States, however, has no specific religious symbol in its flag, and instead the U.S. flag was created to symbolize the characteristics of its country’s citizens: red symbolizes courage and self sacrifice; white symbolizes liberty and equality for all; and blue represents loyalty and faith. (This site offers a neat succession of U.S. flags from the original 13-star to the current 50-star.)

Care to comment on what the flag means to you? Or, want to learn more about the nickname “Old Glory”? Check out today, a website that promotes civil dialogue about American values.

(By ReadTheSpirit columnist Stephanie Fenton)

(NOTE: To see more short articles about upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries, click the “RTS Magazines” tab at the top of this page and select “Religious Holidays.”)

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