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Constitution Day and Constitution Week

A More Perfect Union: The Creation of the U.S. Constitution

Our United States Constitution was created during the long hot summer of 1787, at the State House in Philadelphia. From the Charters of Freedom, A New World Is At Hand, in the National Archives:

May 25, 1787. Freshly spread dirt covered the cobblestone street in front of the Pennsylvania State House, protecting the men inside from the sound of assing carriages and carts. Guards stood at the entrances to ensure that the curious were kept at a distance. Robert Morris of Pennsylvania, the “financier” of the Revolution, opened the proceedings with a nomination–Gen. George Washington for the presidency of the Constitutional Convention. The vote was unanimous. With characteristic ceremonial modesty, the general expressed his embarrassment at his lack of qualifications to preside over such an august body and apologized for any errors into which he might fall in the course of its deliberations.

To many of those assembled, especially to the small, boyish-looking, 36-year-old delegate from Virginia, James Madison, the general’s mere presence boded  well for the convention, for the illustrious Washington gave to the gathering an air of importance and legitimacy But his decision to attend the convention had been an agonizing one. The Father of the Country had almost remained at home.

Suffering from rheumatism, despondent over the loss of a brother, absorbed in the management of Mount Vernon, and doubting that the convention would accomplish very much or that many men of stature would attend, Washington delayed accepting the invitation to attend for several months. Torn between the hazards of lending his reputation to a gathering perhaps doomed to failure and the chance that the public would view his reluctance to attend with a critical eye, the general finally agreed to make the trip. James Madison was pleased.

Continue reading the story at Archives.gov.

The Daughters of the American Revolution have long promoted the Constitution, and in 1929 dedicated their Constitution Hall in tribute to the Constitution. In 1955, the DAR petitioned Congress to set aside the week of September 17-23 each year, to be dedicated for the observance of Constitution Week. The resolution was later adopted by the U.S. Congress and signed into public law on August 2, 1956, by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Saturday, the DAR will host ceremonies all across the United States to honor and read the U.S. Constitution.  The aims of the DAR during the Constitution Week celebration are to:

  • Emphasize citizens’ responsibilities for protecting and defending the Constitution.
  • Inform people that the Constitution is the basis for America’s great heritage and the foundation for our way of life.
  • Encourage the study of the historical events which led to the framing of the Constitution in September 1787.

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See here, for a splendid recitation of the Preamble to the Constitution.

See also Constitution Day

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National POW/MIA Recognition Day

Today, September 16,  is National POW/MIA Recognition Day. Observances of National POW/MIA Recognition Day are held across the country on military installations, ships at sea, state capitols, schools, and veterans’ facilities. It is traditionally observed on the third Friday in September each year. This observance is one of six days throughout the year that Congress has mandated the flying of the National League of Families’ POW/MIA flag. The others are Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day.

United_States_POW-MIA_flag.svgThe flag will be flown at major military installations, national cemeteries, all post offices, VA medical facilities, the World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the official offices of the secretaries of state, defense and veterans affairs, the director of the selective service system, and the White House.

This annual event honors our missing service members and their families, and highlights the government’s commitment to account for them.  Across the country, local POW/MIA ceremonies are encouraged throughout POW/MIA Recognition Week, culminating with countless events and the national ceremony in Washington, DC, on Recognition Day.  Support for these missing Americans and their families is deeply felt.  America’s POW/MIAs should be honored and recognized, rather than memorialized, with the focus on continuing commitment to account as fully as possible for those still missing.  Strong, united support by the American people is crucial to achieving concrete answers.

For updates on POW/MIA news see the National League of POW/MIA Families.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (Department of Defense) has posted news and updates.

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“We the People … “

Here’s your assignment: Memorize the Preamble to the Constitution.

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We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

September 16 is Constitution Day, so I think it would be nice if We the Posterity said the Preamble together. Noon—if that works for you. But anytime is fine.

I was never good at memorizing things, so I will use my standard procedure and write it out in longhand (there’s a quaint old-fashioned word for you—kind of like posterity) over and over again until I can say it from memory.

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Back to the future with Colin Kaepernick

440px-Eldridge_Cleaver_1968If only Colin Kaepernick could travel back to the future and meet Eldridge Cleaver.

Kapernick, a football player in the National Football League, has chosen to boycott the National Anthem by not standing, and not saluting—believing somehow that his action will improve the lives of black Americans. Eldridge Cleaver, a Black Panther who engaged in genuine war against the United States, might tell Kaepernick, “You are either part of the solution or part of the problem.”

Cleaver’s tortuous beliefs in Marxism and atheism led him to escape  the United States and make his way to Cuba, North Korea, North Vietnam, the Soviet Union, China, France, and Algeria, and finally, home to the U.S., as a Christian ready to embrace his country again, no matter what the cost. Cleaver recognized that while the U.S. was not perfect (and never will be),  it was a beacon to the rest of the world. He was forever grateful for finding his way home.

Eldridge Cleaver’s life was never easy, but I suspect he’d encourage Colin Kaepernick to be “part of the solution.”

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First U.S. flag “floated” over a school house

The first U.S. flag “floated” over a public school house was at Catamount Hills, Massachusetts, in 1812. Today a standing stone tablet marks where the little log school house stood on top of the hill, now on the edge of the Catamount Hills State Park. They were proud of their flag, the Loyalists of Colrain, Massachusetts, and engraved the stone with the names of the ladies who sewed it, and the men who put it up.

Catamount_Massachusetts_Schoolhouse_MonumentI bet they had a picnic

I like thinking about that flag, and what a great day it must have been when they raised it. I hope it wasn’t flown to tatters—I’d like to think it still exists somewhere, even if no one knows the history.

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Meet Kimberly Rhode

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At The Daily Flag News, I prefer always to write my own copy and use my own photographs, but some stories must be passed along (and don’t need any commentary from me). That’s means today I must link you out, because I want you to meet Kimberly Rhode, who has won medals in six consecutive Olympic games.

From Winchester Ammunition, a story about Olympic shooting champion Kim Rhode on the Winchester blog.

By winning the bronze medal, Rhode became the only woman in history to win individual medals in six consecutive Olympic games, the only United States athlete to win six consecutive individual medals and the first to win them in six consecutive summer Olympics.

From Taki’s Magazine, an article by Joe Bob Briggs about Kimberly Rhode, titled Muzzled.

SAN GABRIEL, Calif.—Only two athletes in history have won medals in six consecutive Olympic Games.

Only two.

Let me put this in perspective. There are about 13,000 Olympians, both summer and winter, during each four-year cycle. Since 1896, when the modern Games began, there have been 184,869 Olympians. So we’re talking about something that happens .001 percent of the time, which is just one click above…never.Save

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Baseball and the “Star-Spangled Banner”

baseball-team-1529403_640Baseball and the Star-Spangled Banner go way back. Back to the nineteenth century, and long before the Star-Spangled Banner became America’s National Anthem. I don’t think it is a stretch of history to suggest that the popularity of playing the Star-Spangled Banner at baseball games contributed significantly to it becoming the National Anthem.

Defense of Fort McHenry

Within days of writing the Defence of Fort McHenry, Francis Scott Key’s words were printed on a broadside and distributed in Baltimore. Shortly thereafter, the words and music were published together, because Key wrote the words to fit the tune of “To Anacreon in Heaven,” which was a popular song at the time. It wasn’t the first time that Key had composed words for the same tune.

The Star-Spangled Banner rapidly grew in popularity and was frequently played at large gatherings throughout the country, but especially before baseball games. In 1889, the Secretary of the Navy ordered that the Star-Spangled Banner be played when the flag was raised, and by 1916, President Woodrow Wilson used an executive order making it the National Anthem. Congress eventually wrote the legislation and President Herbert Hoover signed it into law March 3, 1931.

Those events, and the long-standing tradition of playing the National Anthem at baseball games and other sporting events brings us to this question, which I received yesterday at The Daily Flag News.

We play youth baseball in a complex with 4 baseball fields, a couple football fields and at least one soccer field. Are players and others present required to respond to each fields’ playing of the National Anthem with different starting times?

Unforeseen circumstances

Those who wrote the National Anthem Code could not have foreseen a circumstance such as this. The Code does not tell us when, or where, or how to perform the National Anthem, only how to behave during the Anthem. Figuring out the logical, appropriate etiquette for various situations turns into a flow chart of sorts, and after ten years reading and writing about the protocol, I am confident in my response.

This answer will somewhat contradict other posts I have written in the past, but that’s because it is a situation that cannot be summed up in a neat paragraph. Here is what I recommend:

Thus if you have observed the protocol and etiquette for your immediate circumstance (your game): you have stood at attention, saluted as appropriate to who you are, listened to and/or sung the National Anthem—then you have met the honor, and obligation attendant to your game.  It is not necessary for you to stop your game when a new game and Anthem begins on another field within your hearing.

In baseball (in general) any player, coach or manager can ask for a time out, but only the umpire can grant time out. By the time the umpire could call time out, the Anthem—which runs for about 70 seconds—would be over, and for players to just stop playing without a time out could be dangerous and chaotic. It’s the sort of problem that must give coaches and umpires a headache and heartburn, too.

Have a meeting

Because this situation must be a recurring problem, I suggest that the various organizations, plus umpires and referees that meet and play on these game fields have a meeting to establish a standard protocol and etiquette for observing the National Anthem on these fields. It would would simplify things so much, and insure that each game was conducted properly, and that honors to the National Anthem were properly given.

What they call a teachable moment

This is an amazing opportunity to teach young people about the history of the Star-Spangled Banner, why we honor the flag by standing and saluting, and how it ties into the history of baseball. Without baseball, it might have taken a lot longer for the Star-Spangled Banner to become our National Anthem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Antique American flags link our history

A thirteen star flag from the Bridgman collection.
A thirteen star flag from the Bridgman collection.

Antique American flags link our history to the present. Antique American flags and other textile memorabilia were featured this summer in Town & Country magazine. Antiquities dealer Jeff Bridgman showcased some of his rarest pieces and provided commentary on them in this Town & Country article.

While there are variations on the Stars and Stripes, which changed in number throughout the 19th Century as new states joined the union, the mix also includes a rare colorful militia flag designed by Tiffany & Co. valued at $350,000, and the Declaration of Independence woven into a kerchief, circa 1826.

Want to see more flags? Here is a video from Vimeo that features Bridgman talking about antique American flags and other textiles.

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Happy Independence Day 2016

As we celebrate Independence Day 2016, it is good to think about those who contributed in a mighty way to the exploration of our new country. In the Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, we read that on July 4, 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, and the Corps of Discovery were west of the Mississippi River, in what is now Kansas, and camped near present-day Atchison.

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A one-pounder cannon mounted on the bow of a boat, such as the one fired by Lewis and Clark on Independence Day, 1804.

Except for one man who was bitten by a snake (he lived), it was a good day for the explorers. They fired their small cannon both morning and evening. They took the time to eat some special foods that evening, and drank some whiskey. And I’m sure they toasted George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson.

Among other foods, the men ate “buffalo beef” (bison), corn, and beans. In honor of the day, Lewis and Clark named two nearby rivers. They named one “Creek Independence” and the other “4th of July 1804 Creek.”

I don’t know what I’ll be serving for our 4th of July meal, but I do have a bottle of fine whiskey, and as the sun goes down, I will offer a toast to Lewis and Clark, and their courageous men. Happy Independence Day to you, too.

 

 

 

 

 

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Lone Star flag hangs upside-down in TimeWarner Cable commercial

TimeWarner Cable is advertising in Texas, which seems ordinary enough. But the company is using a series of commercials that display the Lone Star flag hanging upside-down on the flagpole. The flag’s white stripe is on the bottom, and the top point on the five-pointed star is pointing down, not up.

I spoke with a TimeWarner Cable marketer in Dallas on November 19, 2009, about a specific TimeWarner commercial with an upside-down Texas flag, and I was told that the commercial would be taken off the air (it was the “football game and tail-gating in Texas” commercial). I don’t know if it was actually removed or not, because I don’t watch television 24/7.

The image below, from the November commercial, is from a screen capture sent to me by a reader at The Daily Flag. There can be no mistake that the state flag of Texas is mounted upside-down on the pole.

upside down Lone Star flag in TimeWarner Cable commercial Nov 2009

Last night (12/08/09) while watching television I saw a different TW Cable commercial—using what looked like the same set as the commercial from November.  The flag is mounted on an indoor pole, and sits in the corner office of what appears to be a football coach.

Clearly, the commercial is designed specifically for the Texas market, but just as clearly—TimeWarner Cable has deliberately chosen to overlook this egregious error in filming the commercial.

The conglomerate TimeWarner Cable wants Texans to buy their cable service, but doesn’t care enough about Texans to edit or re-shoot their commercials so the Lone Star flag is not displayed upside-down. If you interviewed a thousand advertising companies, I’m sure they all would tell you that insulting your customers is bad for your business.

If I were considering a television cable system, I would think twice about buying service from a company that doesn’t respect its market. Did TimeWarner Cable produce state-specific commercials for Maryland, Ohio, and Tennessee—and carelessly display those states’ flags upside-down too? Because I’ve heard the folks in those states love football, and I expect that they too, are most particular about how their state flags are displayed.

Once again, the STAR on the Lone Star flag should be displayed pointing up, or if the flag is displayed vertically by the hoist, the star points to its own right—or left as viewed from in front of the flag. Link here for the flag statute in the Texas government code.