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Empire editorial: Fly your flags today

Posted: June 13, 2011 - 8:51pm

The American flag was adopted by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. Since the 1860s the date has taken on a greater significance, some towns holding big parades to mark the event.

We admire the spirit shown in Douglas, where today businesses and residents are urged to unfurl Old Glory and put up patriotic decorations to stay up until Independence Day.

The Douglas 4th of July Committee is behind this drive, and it involves a decorating contest. The Douglas Volunteer Firefighters will judge participating properties at 5 p.m.

We hope this tradition spreads across the channel to the rest of Juneau.

Many folks put up holiday lights to brighten the dark days of winter, but why not start the tradition of a patriotic summer season where red, white and blue is seen not just on major holidays, but during the span between Memorial Day and July 4.

At this time, as our country fights two protracted foreign wars, we think the bunting and flags will remind those of us not directly affected by the level of sacrifice given by U.S. soldiers, airmen, sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen and their families.

The Empire proudly flies its new flag, the old one tattered at last by the Taku winds, and a new state flag as well. Join us today.

We leave you with six strange — but — true flag facts sent along by the Douglas 4th of July Committee, and also a little insight into the flag’s colors:

• Etiquette dictates that on Memorial Day flags should be flown at half-staff until noon.

• Annin & Co., in Roseland, N.J., is the biggest flag-maker in the U.S., churning out more than 10,000 types of flags and related products.

• You can sew your own: the precise specs are available at www.ushistory.org/betsy.

• Ralph Lauren’s company paid $10 million in 1998 to restore the actual anthem-inspiring ”Star-Spangled Banner,” now at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

• Is your flag tattered and torn? Local branches of the Boy Scouts and the American Legion will burn it for you in a dignified manner.

• Impress your pals: vexillology is the word for “flag studies.”

• According to the website www.usflag.org, “The colors red, white, and blue did not have meanings for the Stars and Stripes when it was adopted in 1777. However, the colors in the Great Seal did have specific meanings. Charles Thompson, secretary of the Continental Congress, reporting to Congress on the seal, stated: “The colors of the pales (the vertical stripes) are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valour, and Blue, the color of the Chief (the broad band above the stripes) signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice.”

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