“When is your birthday?” Mary Jane Kampling of Clinton asked her visiting great-granddaughter recently.

“June 14,” quickly answered the soon-to-be 7-year-old.

“Is there anything special about your birthday?” great-grandma asked.

After thinking for a moment the pretty, blonde, pony-tailed youngster, with a big grin on her face, said, “Yes, my birthday is on Flag Day.”

June 14 is not only her birthday but is the birthday celebration of the American flag, the Stars and Stripes. The flag came into being on June 14, 1777. On that date, the Second Continental Congress authorized a new flag to symbolize the new nation, the United States of America.

“There is a booklet titled ‘Our Flag’ that has the history of the flag, care of your flag, proper way to fold the flag, and other information,” said Ed Staszewski, office director of the Clinton County Commission of Veterans Affairs.

Admittedly not “an expert” on the flag, Staszewski has made informal flag presentations to Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, at AMVETS flag retirements and, last year, at Bluff Elementary School.

“There is a way to retire a flag properly, just as there is for the burial of a military person,” he said. “It shows respect to the flag, something that seems to be lacking in our time. I am very interested in our flag and try to instruct people the proper respect.”

Staszewski, a member of the AMVETS honor guard, said the American Legion has a similar flag retirement.

The Joint Committee on Printing authorized “Our Flag.” The Congressional publication was printed by authority of Senate Concurrent Resolution 61, 105th Congress.

According to information found in the booklet, the Stars and Stripes originated as a result of a resolution adopted by the Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress at Philadelphia on June 14, 1777. The resolution read:

“Resolved, that the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.”

For several years the addition of a new state put both another stripe and star on the flag. President Monroe, in 1818, accepted a bill that the union have 20 stars with a new one added for each new state. The 13 alternating red and white stripes would remain unchanged.

With the addition of Hawaii, the 50-star flag came into being.

As described in “Our Flag,” there was a new design and arrangement of the stars in the union, a requirement met by President Eisenhower in Executive Order No. 10834, issued Aug. 21, 1959. The new flag was raised for the time at 12:01 a.m. on July 4, 1960, at the Fort McHenry National Monument in Baltimore.

The Stars and Stripes first flew in a Flag Day celebration in Hartford, Conn., in 1861 during the first year of the Civil War. The first national observance of Flag Day occurred June 14, 1877, the centennial of the original flag resolution.

By the mid-1890s the observance of Flag Day on June 14 was a popular event. Proclamations were issued by mayors and governors to celebrate this event. Public sentiment for a national Flag Day observance was greatly intensified.

In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling for a nationwide observance on June 14. It was not until 1949 that Congress made this day a permanent observance. The measure was signed into law by President Harry S Truman.

Although Flag Day is not celebrated as a federal holiday, Americans everywhere continue to honor the history and heritage it represents.

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