Flag Day celebrates common history

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Flag Day, observed annually on June 14, celebrates the adoption of the U.S. flag. Today marks the flag’s 240th anniversary, as it was first adopted by resolution of the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. Flag Day was officially established by presidential proclamation in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson.

In his proclamation, President Wilson wrote: “Many circumstances have recently conspired to turn our thoughts to a critical examination of the conditions of our national life, of the influences which have seemed to threaten to divide us in interest and sympathy, of forces within and forces without that seemed likely to draw us away from the happy traditions of united purpose and action of which we have been so proud ... I therefore suggest and request that throughout the nation and if possible in every community the fourteenth day of June be observed as FLAG DAY with special patriotic exercises, at which means shall be taken to give significant expression to our thoughtful love of America, our comprehension of the great mission of liberty and justice to which we have devoted ourselves as a people, our pride in the history and our enthusiasm for the political programme of the nation, our determination to make it greater and purer with each generation, and our resolution to demonstrate to all the world its vital union, in sentiment and purpose, accepting only those as true compatriots who feel as we do the compulsion of this supreme allegiance.”

Wilson’s feelings and observations still ring true in today’s environment in our country. Flag Day — a day to reflect on our common history — may be a good time to take a collective breath. Not to forget forever the issues that divide us, but rather to celebrate for a moment those commonalities that unite us.

There are two local Flag Day ceremonies taking place today, open to anyone interested in participating. The first, hosted by the Elks, Civil Air Patrol and the United Veterans of the Flathead Valley, will be held at 11 a.m. at Depot Park in Kalispell. Everyone is welcome to bring old flags for proper disposal.

The Springs at Whitefish is offering free U.S. flags to anyone, including people looking to exchange their old flag for a new one. The public is invited to visit The Springs, 1001 River Lakes Parkway in Whitefish, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. today to pick one up while they last. Call ahead at 862-6322 to check on availability. Whitefish Boy Scout Troop 1917 will conduct a retirement ceremony at 2 p.m. at The Springs with the old flags that have been collected.

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