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”?
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.