Americans Observe Flag Day

A Turkish Airlines Boeing 737-400 plane carrying more than 100 passengers is seen at Brindisi airport, Italy, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2006. The plane was hijacked in Greek airspace after taking off from Albania and later landed at the Italian airport. The apparently unarmed hijackers were in negotiations with Italian authorities and later gave up. No passengers or crew were harmed.
AP Photo/Max Frigione
If you saw more flags than usual Wednesday, it's because Americans were celebrating Flag Day.

It was on this day in 1777 that the Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the national flag. And each year since, Americans have observed the day by displaying the flag.

In Holland Mass., the day is so important to Beverly L. Gray that she takes time off from the real estate company she co-owns to line the roads in her town and neighboring locales with thousands of U.S. flags.

Gray, her husband Stephen L. Gray, their co-workers and friends have probably placed more than 25,000 flags on Flag Day mornings over the last eleven years.

"We are very pro-America. We believe in the flag," Gray said.

On this day the Grays and their helpers expect to plant a total of more than 3,000 flags along major routes in Holland, Wales, Sturbridge, Charlton, Southbridge and Auburn, Mass.

In Reno, Nevada, Washoe County is observing Flag Day with a ceremony at the county courthouse that will include a naturalization ceremony followed by an ice cream social.

In Philadelphia, officials handed out thousands of tiny American flags at the start of what will be a series of patriotic events called Welcome America that will culminate with a big celebration on July 4.

And in Baltimore, the home of the original “Star-Spangled
Banner,” the National Flag Day Foundation hosted a flag-raising ceremony at the Star Spangled Banner Flag House.

The Flag House is a museum dedicated to the memory of Mary Pickersgill. She made the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star-Spangled Banner.

Wednesday evening, the Postal Service will issue a series of stamps detailing the history of the American flag. Baltimore's Mayor Martin O' Malley will preside over the ceremony.

Twenty flags linked to the evolution of the Stars and Stripes since 1775 will be issued at the 7 p.m. ceremony in observance of Flag Day at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. The stamps can now be purchased at post offices nationwide.

"This should be a proud moment for all Americans," said Einar V. Dyhrkopp, chairman of the Postal Service Board of Governors, who will dedicate the stamps.

"Our flag is a revered and sacred symbol of all that we, as citizens of this great nation, hold dear to our hearts-freedom and democracy. Old Glory is known the world over as the symbol of one of the greatest nations on Earth. Today the Postal Service pays tribute to our cherished flag with the issuance of these beautiful Stars and Stripes commemorative stamps."

The designs were chosen to provide a sampling of visually interesting and historically significant flags in U.S. history. Among the flags are the Continental Colors, and regional and military flags.

The name of each flag either describes its design or places it in its historical context. Few of these flags have official names. The date on each stamp may reflect thmost significant year in a flag's history, not necessarily the year the flag was created.

"One of the world's most powerful and widely recognized symbols, the United States flag has evolved over the past 200-plus years from a variety of local, regional, and national designs, including unofficial and semiofficial ones,” said Dr. Whitney Smith, executive director of the Flag Research Center in Winchester, Mass.

"These 20 examples, which are based on the most recent research available, offer a visual sampling of variations on a theme. For artistic consistency, flag widths have been made uniform, and the same shades of red and blue have been used throughout,” said Dr. Smith.

He said the flags were selected for their historical significance as well as for their aesthetic value.