SCHIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado celebrates the anniversary of the Stars and Stripes, officially known as Flag Day, June 14.
Many homes and businesses display the flag year round, but on this day in particular, displaying the flag is observed and encouraged across the nation.
At Schriever Air Force base, we honor the flag every day during reveille and retreat ceremonies.
Senior Airman Claudia Cousin, 50th Comptroller Squadron, Personnel technician, is currently on duty as flag detail.
“When performing retreat and reveille I feel respect and honor for our country and people,” Cousin said. “Not just people (who) are living but even those (who) have passed away.”
The American flag was officially recognized June 14, 1777. On that day, the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, passed the Flag Resolution which authorized a flag to symbolize the birth of the new and free, United States of America.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson established Flag Day to commemorate the anniversary of the Flag Resolution. However, Flag Day became a nationally observed event in August 1949 by an Act of Congress.
The United States flag is filled with symbolism. The 13 white stars on the original United States flag represent the original colonies that declared independence from Great Britain and became the first states of the Union.
Unchanged from the original flag is the 13 red and white alternating horizontal stripes, symbolizing the 13 original colonies as well as the blue rectangle that serves as background for the stars.
The colors red, white, and blue didn’t possess a symbolism for the Star-Spangled Banner when it was adopted in 1777.
However, on July 4, 1776 by the Continental Congress passed a resolution to devise the Great Seal of the United States of America which had the same colors as the Star-Spangled Banner.
In the Great Seal, the red signifies hardiness and valor, the white, purity and innocence, and the blue, vigilance, perseverance and justice. This same symbolism was later adopted for the flag.
The flag’s importance and symbolism will vary depending on the individual.
“The United States is a melting pot of different cultures and races,” she said. “Sometimes we take things for granted and the flag reminds me of the blessings I am able to give and receive because I am an American. I am blessed to live in this country and to be part of the United States military,” Cousin said.
Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Draves, 21st Force Support Squadron Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge Honor Guard, said the flag is a symbol of sacrifice.
“Being part of the High Frontier Honor Guard, and a guardsman as a young Airman, the flag has become a symbol of sacrifice for me,” he said. “The Honor Guard’s primary mission is military funeral honors and after completing many of them you begin to see the true sacrifices that our military members make on a daily basis,” he said.
Flags require detailed and meticulous care. Draves explained some basic steps the Honor Guard takes to ensure flags are always serviceable.
“Proper care for a flag consists of a few basic things,” Draves said. “First, we attempt to keep the flags as clean as possible. We utilize steamers to ensure that markings and dirt are not present on our flags. The steamers also allow us to keep the flags as wrinkle free as possible to ensure the flags have a crisp appearance at all times.”
Additionally, flags need to be folded in a specific way before storing and need to be disposed of in an honorable manner when no longer serviceable.
“When flags are not being utilized, we are required to fold them into crisp triangles and store them in a clean and dry location,” he said. “The key to flag upkeep is ensuring the integrity of our nation’s flag is never infringed upon. When a flag is deem unserviceable, we work with the local Veteran of Foreign Wars and Scouts of America. They preform flag disposal ceremonies regularly.”
Draves reminisced about his most memorable moments when handling the American flag during his Honor Guard duties.
“The most memorable experience I have encountered with the American Flag during my Honor Guard time was about 10 years ago,” he said. “I was and Airman 1st class leading a team for an active duty funeral. I presented flags to an individual’s two and four year old sons. Although these boys were young, you could see the anguish and struggle in their eyes.”
As we plan and posture for tomorrow’s engagements, we recognize and honor the flag as a symbol of the birth of our nation and the liberties fought for by past and present service members.
For information on how to display the flag and its history visit: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CDOC-109sdoc18/pdf/CDOC-109sdoc18.pdf.