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From the Historian: Flag Day at Macedon Academy

Linda Braun
The Towpath Volunteer Fife & Drum Corp. plays the "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

On a beautiful sunny morning, a group of people met on the steps and in the front lawn of the Macedon Academy in Macedon Center. It was Flag Day, June 14. The Macedon Historical Society wanted to do something special for this important day. Sandy Pagano, president of the MHS, organized a ceremony that could be held and recorded amid the restrictions of social distancing during the coronavirus.

The event began with an introduction from Pagano. She recognized our visitors the Towpath Volunteer Fife & Drum Corp.; American Legion Philip Steiger Post 494; Dave Morse, commander; and the Sons of the American Legion Post 494. The purpose of the event was to recognize Flag Day, and to share a lesson on how to fold the American flag properly and what each fold means. Members included Dave Morse, Paul Hansen, Chris DeCosmo, Greg Frey, Dave Morse, Lou Graham, Tim Taylor, EJ Burgio and Kyle Eisenschmid.

The Towpath Volunteer Fife & Drum Corp., dressed in their traditional blue uniforms with tricorne hats, added an additional piece to their outfits this year — the masks that everyone is now making part of their daily outings. Distancing within the ranks was observed as they began the ceremony with a playing of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” With several members in attendance, the unique sound of fifes and drums echoing through this small community was very moving. With a single rope-tensioned drum playing a drum roll, the fifes ended the ceremony with a solemn playing of our national anthem.

Following the opening, Hansen and Eisenschmid demonstrated the proper folding of the flag. With each fold, narrator Chris DeCosmo explained the meaning:

Fold 1: Symbol of life.

Fold 2: Belief in eternal life.

Fold 3: In honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks, and who gave a portion of his or her life for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

Fold 4: Represents our weaker nature. As American citizens trusting in God, it is him we turn to in times of peace, as well as in times of war, for his divine guidance.

Fold 5: Tribute to our country. In the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right, but it is still our country, right or wrong.”

Fold 6: Where our heart lies. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Fold 7: Tribute to armed forces, for it is through the armed forces that we protect our country and our flag against all enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.

Fold 8: Tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day and to honor our mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.

Fold 9: Tribute to womanhood. It has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that has molded the character of the men and women who have made this country great.

Fold 10: Tribute to father, who has also given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since he or she was first born.

Fold 11: Represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Fold 12: Represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies God the father, the son and Holy Ghost.

Fold 13: When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God We Trust.”

The idea of Flag Day originated in 1885 when a school teacher in Fredonia, Wisconsin, decided to observe June, the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777. Several other teachers, organizations and societies followed suit. In 1894, the governor of New York directed that on June 14, the flag be displayed on all public buildings. It was in that year that Chicago held their first Flag day celebration. May 30, 1916, Flag Day was officially established by the proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson. It was not until Aug. 3, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14 of each year as National Flag Day.

On June 14, 1777, to establish an official flag for the new nation, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act: “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be made of 13 stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” Now the stars represent each of our 50 states, with 13 stripes for the original colonies. The red symbolizes hardiness and valor, the white symbolizes purity and innocence, and the blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.

Between 1777 and 1960, Congress passed several acts that changed the shape, design and arrangement of the flag, and allowed for additional stars and stripes to be added to reflect the admission of each new state.

Act of Jan. 13, 1794. provided for 15 stripes and 15 stars after May 1795; act of April 4, 1818, provided for 13 stripes and one star for each state, to be added to the flag on the 4th of July following the admission of each new state, signed by President Monroe; executive order of President Taft, June 24, 1912, established proportions of the flag and provided for arrangement of the stars in six horizontal rows of eight each, a single point of each star to be upward; executive order of President Eisenhower, Jan. 3, 1959, provided for the arrangement of the stars in seven rows of seven stars each, staggered horizontally and vertically; and executive order of President Eisenhower, Aug. 21, 1959, provided for the arrangement of the stars in nine rows of stars staggered horizontally and eleven rows of stars staggered vertically.

We look forward to celebrating Flag Day each year. We hope that you and your families would help celebrate by displaying your own flag every year.

If you are interested in our local history, please consider supporting the Macedon Historical Society. We meet on the second Tuesdays of each month starting at 6 p.m. Distancing and masks are required. For questions, email at historian@macedontown.net, or vist Facebook at Macedon NY History or macedonhistoricalsociety.org. We are located at 1185 Macedon Center Road, Macedon.

Linda Braun is historian for the town of Macedon.

Paul Hansen and Kyle Eisenschmid demonstrate the proper folding of the American flag.