Flag Day and La Bandera
Jim McginleySmith/Philadelphia –
“You’re a grand old flag,
You’re a high flying flag,
And forever in peace may you wave;
You’re the emblem of, the land I love,
The home of the free and the brave.”
With this stirring and sprightly Cohan tune the recently heralded 65th Infantry “Borinqueneers” and the rest of the nation’s troops marched into the First World War in 1917.
On Sunday, Philadelphia celebrated that grand old flag at Flag Day ceremonies at the historic Betsy Ross House, Independence Hall and the Constitution Center with a type of pageantry and patriotism that, as the century-old song cautions, is “never a boast or a brag.”
Although the national holiday honoring the flag was established by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, it has historically had special significance in Philadelphia, the home of Betsy Ross who, according to legend, knitted the 13 stars and stripes on a design established by the Continental Congress on June 14th, 1777. In 1937, Pennsylvania became the first state to designate June 14th as Flag Day.
In addition, the day coincides with another anniversary, as exactly two years earlier, in June 14, 1775, that the Continental Congress – meeting in Philadelphia- created the “Continental Army,” precursor of the U.S. Army. During the opening of day-long ceremonies at Independence Hall, some 50 recruits were inducted into the U.S. Army.
Under a canopy of trees at the 2nd and Arch street home of Betsy Ross, a noon day naturalization ceremony conducted by federal Immigration officials saw 13 immigrants from nine countries sworn-in as citizens of the United States. Among the nations represented included were Ecuador, China, Cambodia, Jamaica, Philippines. “Your children and grandchildren will never forget what you have done here this day,” noted the Director of the Betsy Ross House.