What do you remember about Flag Day celebrations (June 14) when you were in school? You probably participated in a ceremony at the school flagpole. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts wore their uniforms on that day, and the Boy Scouts usually performed the honor of raising the flag. This ceremony often included singing the Star-Spangled Banner.
If Flag Day fell on a weekend one of my grandfathers, a WWI veteran, made a solemn ceremony of putting out his flag. During this task his attitude receded into silence and duty, which impressed me. We’d climb the stairs to the landing just before the third floor, where he’d lean out the window to attach the flag to the pulley. The sound of the metal flag grommets clanking against the pole made a memorable sound to me.
In addition to Flag Day ceremonies, we school kids were drilled in the lyrics to the Star-Spangled Banner. I’m not an educator who favors drilling to learn, but memorization has its place.
When you and your child put out your flag on Flag Day, see if you both know the words to the Star-Spangled Banner, written in 1814 by Washington, D.C., attorney and poet Francis Scott Key.
Thanks to the Maryland Historical Society Collection, all four verses of our national anthem are here.