Over 200 years ago during the American Revolution, the Continental Congress authorized a new Flag design that would come to represent the ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice that our country holds dear. Since June 14, 1777, the design of the Flag has sustained changes, along with our young Democracy, but its representation has not.
The American people have long recognized the important role the Flag plays in our society and what it represents. The first Flag Day exercises are thought to have occurred in 1885 in a little country schoolhouse near Fredonia, Wisconsin where school teacher Bernard J. Cigrand shared his love of the American Flag with his students.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation establishing the commemoration of Flag Day on June 14th. Years later in 1949, Congress officially designated Flag Day to be a national day of observance, and asked all Americans to join.
The American flag is intricately woven into the very fabric of our society and can be seen flying above our homes, workplaces, sporting arenas, and our most sacred grounds. I often take early morning jogs on the National Mall before I start my work day. As I make my way back to the office, I see the American Flag waving tall and proud in front of the United States Capitol. This remarkable sight serves as a continual reminder of all who have sacrificed to secure the freedom our Flag represents and we enjoy.
The American Flag is an enduring symbol of this nation. It is a reminder of our humble beginnings and the patriots who established our strong foundation. It is a reminder of the unity we share among the states. Most importantly, it is a symbol of more than 200 years of sacrifice.
This Flag Day, I encourage all South Dakotans to take a moment to pause and reflect on the American Flag, our enduring symbol of selfless sacrifice, national unity, and precious freedom.