As a girl I would spend time at my grandmother’s house in the summers. Whenever I was there on June 14, we would visit the Fort Smith National Cemetery and see rows upon rows of white headstones marked with tiny US flags. Each flag staking a claim. Each one a call to remember the grace of living (and dying) in the United States. Each one a symbol of our unity as one nation, under God.
Tomorrow is Flag Day. Did you know that?
Flag Day commemorates the June 14, 1777 resolution of the Second Continental Congress to adopt the flag of the United States. It’s not a federal holiday, so no one gets off of work, but it is an official day of observance, instated by the proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson in 1916.
I’m not really sure what my grandmother was striving to instill in me with the Flag Day visits, but I remember being awed by the sight. And I know she taught me a reverence for the flag – and the nation for which it stands – with her regular attention to Flag Day.
With my own kids, we “observe” Flag Day with Flag Shirts and a photo. OK, as it happens, we don’t always get our picture taken on Flag Day in our Flag shirts… but we do get Flag Shirts every year in advance of Flag Day, we try to all wear them on June 14, and we do take a picture in our flag shirts some time during the summer…
It is a fun little tradition. And it reminds me to pass on to them some of the awe for the symbols of our great nation.
It’s also a neat way to mark the years. I think this will be our 12th year to take flag shirt photos! The first year we took pictures with my sister’s family and my mom & step-dad – each household in a different color shirt. We haven’t been able to keep up the extended family tradition, but we’ve managed to take a picture of our kids every summer in flag shirts, if not the whole family.
For me, it is a neat record of how our family and kids have grown. And it is one more tradition woven into the fabric of our family memories.
There’s something that seems to tie us together by regular celebrations and family traditions. So Flag Day is one of many little holidays we celebrate. We also have family traditions around things like Star Wars Day, Pi Day, April Fool’s Day, May Day, and Cinco de Mayo. And when all else fails, we just make them up: Backwards Day, Pajama Day, First Day of School Day, Day of the First Snow…
Whatever you do with Flag Day, I hope your family has traditions to call it’s own throughout the year. Sometimes it is the quirky little things that tie a heart to the family; he little graces, you might say, that make us who we are and connect us to one another.
Someday, when my kids look at the cemetery of years gone by, I hope they see tiny flags of grace at each marker – little memories that stake a claim and call them to remember the grace of living in the Quillen family and symbolize the unity with which we stand, under God.