Raising a Red (White, and Blue) Flag

I knew this was coming. When you blog several hundred times over, you start to wonder, “Have I already covered this topic?” Today’s subject seemed like new territory so I answered with a resounding, “No, I haven’t”… and I was wrong. Way wrong. Turns out, I’ve already discussed a certain mid-June U.S. holiday twice in previous posts. Whoops. Is this what happens when you turn sixty or am I subconsciously determined to elevate a somewhat meaningless festivity?  Okay, don’t answer that.  Just bear with me while I unfurl my opinion for a third time here. Happy Flag Day, America.

You missed it again, darn you. You’re reading about Flag Day here, at least two days after the fact, and now you’re wondering how you could’ve possibly forgotten to raise your Stars and Stripes on Tuesday.  I mean, c’mon, you did raise your flag on Memorial Day, right?  And you’re planning to do the same on July 4th?  So how could you forget the “holiday” smack dab in between?  Think about it.  Technically we celebrate the birthday of our flag on June 14th (and this year we put 245 candles on her red, white, and blue cake).  Isn’t the birth of our flag more important than honoring our fallen military or celebrating our independence?  Of course it is… NOT.

I’m struggling (third time over) to appreciate Flag Day.  We celebrate a big birthday at Christmas (er, some of us) and another one on July 4th (again, some of us).  Those are major parties.  With the former, we have an entire season leading up to the holiday itself – music, food, presents, and decorations galore.  With the latter, we have parades, festivals, 5K races, family barbeques, fireworks, and more decorations galore. But June 14th? Just another day at the office, I say.  Unless your town throws a parade like Quincy, MA (“Longest-running of its kind!”), Troy, NY (“50,000+ spectators!”), or Three Oaks, MI (“Three-day celebration!”), you didn’t even think about raising your flag. And for the record, the Troy, NY parade called it quits five years ago.  Can you say “holi-dying”?

Pre-1777 version (no stars!)

No disrespect to the U.S. flag, mind you. The red, white, and blue has quite the history.  The version you see these days is the twenty-seventh since its birth in 1777.  She flies permanently (all day, every day) in over twenty locations, including the U.S. Capitol, Baltimore’s Fort McHenry, and the moon (yep, that one).  And I’ll bet you didn’t know, the American flag “should be displayed at full staff” on eighteen calendar holidays.  Even on Christmas.  But especially on Flag Day (sarcasm with a capital “S”).


Trivia break (because we need a break).  I’m here to tell you the largest American flag – as deemed by the good people at Guinness – is not in Texas (after all, everything’s bigger in Texas).  It’s Superflag and it’s deserving of its nickname.  Superflag (“It’s not just a flag, it’s a feeling!”) is 1.5 times the size of a football field.  It weighs 3,000 pounds and needs 600 people to hold it up.  A single star in Superflag’s field of blue is seventeen feet high.  That’s a big banner, citizens; so big, in fact (and unwieldy), its creator birthed “Superflag Jr.” as a more convenient size.  You’ll see Junior unfurled before the Super Bowl, covering almost the entire field.

Giant flags may fire me up but here’s a subject that does not: Betsy Ross. Sure, “Elizabeth” was a real person, living in a real house (which you can still tour today in Philadelphia); an upholsterer by trade and a talented seamstress besides.  She was even an acquaintance of George Washington.  But credit her with creating the very first American flag?  Sorry, compatriots, it’s just not true (or at least there’s no evidence to prove it).  Makes for a quaint story from our colonial roots, but when any association of Betsy and the first flag includes “purported” or “legend”, you have to wonder who makes this stuff up.

Talking about Superflag and Betsy Ross makes you think I don’t have enough to say about my original topic. You would be correct. But if you simply must know more about Flag Day (and for the record, I don’t think you must), check out my previous posts American Hollow-Day (full of mirth) and Banner Birthday (less tongue-in-cheek).  Neither “old-glorifies” June 14th any better than this one… nor did the zero-count of American flags I saw on Tuesday around town.  This holiday is on the ropes, people.  I’m not here raising a red, white, and blue flag but more like, a red flag. Third blog strike. I’m out.

Some content sourced from the We Are The Mighty article, “This is the world’s largest American flag”, and Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia”.

Author: Dave

Three hundred posts would suggest I have something to say… This blog was born from a desire to elevate the English language, highlighting eloquent words from days gone by. The stories I share are snippets of life itself, and each comes with a bonus: a dusted-off word I hope you’ll go on to use more often. Read “Deutschland-ish Improvements” to learn about my backyard European wish list. Try “Slush Fun” for the throwback years of the 7-Eleven convenience store. Or drink in "Iced Coffee" to discover the plight of the rural French cafe. On the lighter side, read "Late Night Racquet Sports" for my adventures with our latest moth invasion. As Walt Whitman said, “That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” Here then, my verse. Welcome to "Life In A Word".

24 thoughts on “Raising a Red (White, and Blue) Flag”

  1. When I was a kid, flag day was important because back then the school year end right after flag day, so I always looked forward to that.

    These days the school year seems to end in May and start in August. weird.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting parallel, Andrew. My schools in California also ended the year in mid-June but I don’t remember acknowledging Flag Day in the same timeframe. School-year summers are definitely shorter now. I remember my annual months of freedom lasting until after Labor Day.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. There you go. Flag Day is nothing more than a default “holiday” entry on your electronic calendar. Need I say more? 🙂


  2. Betsy and the first flag is a legend? Oh my, is nothing I learned in elementary school still true? I remember as a child that Flag Day was celebrated in a low-key way. All the houses on our street made a point to put out their flags, but beyond that it was just another day. I feel kind of sorry for this holiday, the unrecognized stepsister of Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You either have a better neighborhood or a better memory than mine (probably both). I have no recollection of putting out our flag for Flag Day, but I suppose I should check with my brothers to be sure 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I remembered Flag Day Dave. I don’t fly a flag and there are no homes flying flags in the neighborhood which I find odd. (I’m also not an American citizen as to flying the flag.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not much better with the flag, Linda. The only holiday where I faithfully remember to display the flag is July 4th. I expect most Americans are the same.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think it’s a fact, Linda. Sort of dilutes the purpose of half-staff when it’s the only way the flag seems to be these days, and it’s not intuitive what the gesture is honoring. A state can designate half-staff same as the federal government so I always do a double-take when I see it, wondering who made the decision and why.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I agree and there is such inconsistency Dave. Our Governor may mandate half-staff, but I see lots of homeowners or business not abiding by it. They need to check with the official site for half-staff notifications re: the flag. There is a site for that – I’ll send it to you in a separate comment in case it goes to SPAM.


  4. Each June 14th I remember that it’s Flag Day. But only because it was the birthday of a neighbor kid from childhood, who always associated his birthday with Flag Day. So the 14th to me is Kevin Bordner’s birthday that happens to fall on Flag Day.

    I own a Flag, but have not flown it at our current house. Attaching the mount for the pole to the house would require drilling into brick or mortar, which Marianne will not permit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Our daughter and her husband moved into their house in South Carolina six months ago and already have their flag mount out front, ready for July 4th. Guess I raised her right. And Kevin Bordner is a familiar name – believe you mentioned him in a fairly recent post.

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: