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Flag Day celebrates nation’s adoption of Old Glory design

BROOK NUGENT POSES with her twin daughters Maisie, left, and Sabrina, right, in front of a giant flag on display outside the National Flag Foundation in Waubeka, Wis. Old Glory is venerated annually in Waubeka, the small town that lays claim to the first Flag Day. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)

The Fourth of July may still be three weeks away, but today should help to get Americans in the swing of things.

In Waubeka, Wisconsin, stands a proud community that lays claim to being the birthplace of Flag Day, thanks to a tenacious teacher in a one-room schoolhouse, The Associated Press reported.

Here are some other things to know about the obscure flag-waving holiday —

— Flag Day commemorates June 14, 1777, when the Continental Congress determined the composition of the nation’s banner: “Resolved, That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

— President Woodrow Wilson issued a 1916 proclamation of June 14 as Flag Day and in 1949, President Harry S. Truman signed the formal observance into law. And it falls during Flag Week, after another congressional dictum in 1966.

— What about July 4? Yes, Independence Day makes prominent use of the flag. But the emblem is important enough to have its own day, according to David Janik, a Waubeka native and second-generation president of the National Flag Day Foundation.

“July 4th, we’re celebrating our independence,” Janik said. “But on Flag Day, we’re celebrating the birth of our flag, which is the symbol of our country, the symbol that is seen all around the world as the helper, the people who won’t leave you out in the cold.”

— Flag Day isn’t like Thanksgiving, Memorial Day and a smattering of other federal holidays that generally mean Americans can spend the day off work.

Instead, it’s officially recognized nationwide, and government services are still open and the mail still gets delivered. Only Pennsylvania marks it as a state holiday, allowing residents to stay home from work and school.

But another backyard barbecue isn’t required to feel the love in Waubeka.

“Our passion for the flag here is very deep,” Janik said. “The flag is the symbol of our country — it symbolizes individualism, success, loss, daring, chivalry. People need a compass to guide them, and the flag is a great compass.”

If you haven’t already done so, today would be a great day to break out that most famous of American symbols and hang it proudly in front of your house. That is a gesture that surely all U.S. citizens can get behind.

And before we know it, Independence Day will be upon us.

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