Wednesday, March 5, 2014

When was the last time you celebrated Flag Day?

Smithsonian's National Museum of American History to Celebrate 50th Anniversary with Focus on Flag Day

I remember as a child my elementary school always made a big deal out of Flag Day.  It would fall on the last week of school before Summer vacation and we'd have art projects and history lessons about the American Flag followed up with a big school assembly where the Boy Scouts would do a presentation showing the various flags from throughout our Country's history and than a choir would sing patriotic songs.  I haven't heard much about Flag Day since those grade school days.  This year it looks like Flag Day will be getting some national attention though as the Smithsonian Institute is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the opening of its National Museum of American History by promoting one of its most popular attractions, the original flag that flew over Fort McHenry in 1814 and inspired Francis Scott Key to write the song "The Star Spangled Banner" which later became the National Anthem of the United States, with a special event called Raise it up: Anthem for America.

 In recognition of 2014 being the National Museum of American History's 50th anniversary and the 200th anniversary of the drafting of the Star Spangled Banner, the Smithsonian will host a special exhibition pairing the legendary Fort McHenry flag displayed side by side with Fransic Scott Key's original handwritten lyrics of the Star Spangled Banner, on loan from the Maryland Historical Society, from June 14 (Flag Day) to July 6.  To kickoff this grand exhibit and celebrate these anniversaries, the National Museum of American History, is trying to set a new Guinness World Record for largest collective national-anthem performance on Flag Day.  Raise it up: Anthem for America will feature a celebrity singer leading hundreds of members from American choruses joining in to support the event in singing the "Star Spangled Banner" on the Capital Mall in front of the National Museum of American History.  Event organizers hope thousands of people will join in the event at the Mall to sing along, plus are helping millions more will join in by sponsoring tie-in events in their own local communities across the nation.  The event will also be nationally televised live, probably on PBS, for tie-in events, or people who just want to participate on their own from home, during Raise it up: Anthem for America.  

The Smithsonian hasn't released all the details yet and promises more information to come out this Spring. If you are going to be planning a trip to the Nation's Capital this summer or looking for a educational activity to organize for a student or community group this could be a fun and interesting event to get involved with.  There is a registration form on the event's website, , where if you provide your email address they will get in touch with you about participating in Raise it up: Anthem for America.

FLAG DAY is on June 14 which is the date in 1777 that by resolution of the Second Continental Congress the flag of the United States was selected.  National Flag Day was created by an Act of Congress in 1949, it is a national observance though and not a federal holiday.  There is a National Flag Day Foundation that works to promote public participation in observing FLAG DAY and hosts a student essay contest each year with a patriotic theme.

Flag Day is a great opportunity, especially this year, to provide children with some historical lessons, instill some civic pride and engage in a fun family activity.  There are lots of things you can do either independently or as a community to utilize this day as a teachable moment.  With as politically divisive as our Nation has become, wouldn't it be nice if everyone could take a deep breath, put their partisanship and prejudices aside to come together for a collective moment of unity on June 14th by participating in an event like Raise it up: Anthem for America?  So when was the last time you celebrated Flag Day? Are you going to celebrate it this year?!

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