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Flag Day is a time to celebrate national pride

Halfway between Memorial Day and Independence Day on the calendar, June 14 may seem like just another day to prepare for summer. But it is also a remarkable day in our nation’s history.

Last week, we celebrated two important holidays honoring both our national flag and the U.S. Army. While often overlooked, this day is an excellent opportunity to celebrate our national pride.

Flag Day is an annual holiday commemorating the adoption of our national flag by the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. As Americans, we are all familiar with the stars and stripes that make our flag such a memorable national symbol. Starting with 13 stars for 13 new states, our flag has grown over the years to include 50 stars. Each time we start the school day or simply attend a sporting event, many of us can fully recite the “Pledge of Allegiance” to the flag, placing a hand over our heart and removing our hat out of respect for everything that our flag represents.

Believe it or not, this holiday actually has roots in Connecticut. The first person to be credited with suggesting a “Flag Day” was George Morris of Hartford. In fact, our capital city first observed the day in 1861, but it did not become a tradition. Over time, the celebration gained momentum, and it was not until 1916 that President Woodrow Wilson would officially declare June 14 to be Flag Day. Then, in 1949, the U.S. Congress established national Flag Day which has been celebrated ever since.

Today, citizens, businesses and government offices are urged to fly the American flag throughout the week. This year, the City of Shelton commemorated its third annual Flag Day ceremonies with a community BBQ sponsored by the Shelton Economic Development Commission, the Economic Development Corporation, Iroquois Gas and American Legion Sutter Terlizzi Post 16. Mayor Mark Lauretti addressed those in attendance and commented that the American Flag is a symbol of our individual rights and freedom and represents all the hope and opportunity that our great country has to offer. In addition, veterans groups hold flag retirement events to properly dispose of used flags which are damaged, discolored and worn-out. This year, these ceremonies were held by American Legion Sippin-Winspur Post 176 in Monroe and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #12084 in Seymour.

In addition to these events, June 14 is also the birthday of the U.S. Army. This year, the Army celebrated 237 years of service and commitment to the United States. On this day in 1775, Congress established the Continental Army to battle British troops during the upheaval of the Revolutionary War. We can never forget the role our military has played in giving our nation its independence and ensuring our freedom over hundreds of years. For more information about this celebration, please visit the U.S. Army’s website at www.army.mil/birthday/237.

Whether or not you had an opportunity to celebrate either Flag Day or the birthday of the U.S. Army, I encourage you to keep this date in mind for next year. Our flag proudly flies above our neighborhoods, in front of schools and throughout our community. It surely deserves having one day to remember and honor what it stands for. In addition, we simply cannot thank our service men and women enough for all that they sacrifice on our behalf. Celebrating this birthday is another opportunity to express our sincere gratitude. For up-to-date information about these and other important issues, please sign up to receive updates by visiting my website at www.SenatorKevinKelly.com.

Sen. Kevin Kelly represents the 21st District, which includes all of Shelton, most of Stratford, and parts of Monroe and Seymour.

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