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June 14, 2011

Happy Flag Day, Ask Patty Nation!

Flags-colonial_17-76 Today is Flag Day, here in the States.  You may wonder what exactly that means - after all, the Fourth of July is traditionally celebrated as America's birthday.  Does our flag need a day of its own?  Well the idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the Flag is believed to have first originated in 1885. A schoolteacher at a Wisconsin Public School decided, with his pupils, to observe June 14 (the anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes) as 'Flag Birthday'.  In numerous magazines and newspaper articles and public addresses over the following years, Cigrand continued to enthusiastically advocate the observance of June 14 as 'Flag Birthday', or 'Flag Day'.  Consequently, on June 14, 1891, the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia held a Flag Day celebration, and eventually Flag Day was officially established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30th, 1916. 

Now maybe I'm waxing patriotic here, and maybe it's because I've got this music on the brain, but this day reminds me of a song by the brilliant composer/lyricist named Jason Robert Brown.  It's called "The Flagmaker, 1775,"  from a song-cycle musical called Songs for a New World.  Sung by a nameless flagmaker during the American Revolution (who may or may not be Betsy Ross), it's a haunting and powerful narrative from a wife and mother that echoes the sentiments of every military mom or wife's long sleepless nights.   I can't embed a copy of the song here (for copyright reasons, of course), but I will share the final chorus, which is quite poignant and sums the song up nicely:

One more star, one more stripe 
Til this bloodshed's finally through 
One more star, one more stripe 
Til they come back home to you 
One more star, one more stripe 
When there's nothing you can do 
If they take all the things 
That define what you were, and are 
One more star.


Happy Flag Day, Ask Patty Nation.


  Kaeli Gardner, Inc.
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