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A SIGNIFICANT, LITTLE-KNOWN DAY

SHARE A SIGNIFICANT, LITTLE-KNOWN DAY

Ask many Americans what is significant about Tuesday and the likely response will be a blank stare. Flag Day is not one of the most publicized or observed holidays. Perhaps that is because it falls between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, two of the nation's most patriotic days.

But Flag Day has historical significance. June 14 marks the anniversary of the day in 1777 when the Continental Congress designated a national flag with 13 stripes, alternating red and white, and 13 white stars on a blue background. That was the birth of the familiar Stars and Stripes that has come to symbolize freedom and opportunity for people worldwide.The flag itself, of course, is of lesser significance. But the principles it has come to symbolize are of monumental importance. Its tattered remains over embattled Forth McHenry inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem that became the "Star Spangled Banner." Through the generations, it inspired countless soldiers to defend freedom around the world. It was planted in the fine dust of the moon as a symbol of dreams that can become reality through determination and unity of purpose. Most recently, it flew over thousands of graves in France and Italy as a reminder of the sacrifices that freedom often requires of its benefactors.

Flag Day has a rather fuzzy and sporadic past. It was observed, but never officially, at various times during the 19th century. In 1885 a school teacher in Waubeka, Wis., started a campaign to change that. His efforts didn't pay off until 1949, when President Harry Truman signed a resolution officially acknowledging the day.

So Americans can be forgiven for not giving June 14 the recognition they give other notable national days. Still, because of all the flag represents, it would be a shame not to fly it proudly on Tuesday.