Star-spangled inspiration on Flag Day

Thursday, June 14, 2012

One of the most awe-inspiring sights I saw in Washington, D.C., with my daughter’s Girl Scout troop this weekend wasn’t one I could photograph and post on Facebook. It was the original Star-Spangled Banner, the very flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the lyrics to what became the national anthem.

The flag, created in 1813 by Mary Pickersgill of Baltimore, is displayed in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History under low light. No photography is allowed, and frankly, I was glad not to be distracted by the glow of cell-phone screens and flashes.

The flag is massive and tattered and simply beautiful.

Seeing it just three days before Flag Day reminded me how powerful symbols can be.

In 1885, perhaps similarly moved, Wisconsin teacher Bernard Cigrand first came up with the idea for a national flag day in 1885, according to More than 60 years later, President Harry Truman signed legislation in 1949 designating June 14 as National Flag Day.

For tips on how to display your own American flag, see On Flag Day, rights and wrongs about Old Glory.

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