Flag Day

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american-flag-2a-main_fullThis Sunday, June 14, is Flag Day.  On June 14, 1777 Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the flag of the United States of America.  For more than 100 years after that date, however, there was no official holiday to commemorate the flag and its significance. 

Bernard J. Cigrand, a young teacher working at the Stoney Hill School near Fredonia, Wisconsin, began the process that eventually led to the recognition of June 14 as Flag Day.  In 1885, on the anniversary of the adoption of the flag, Cigrand placed a small (ten inches) flag with 38 stars in an inkwell on his desk and then assigned his students to write an essay explaining what the flag meant to them.  Upon the completion of the assignment, however, Cigrand continued to advocate for the adoption of a holiday to observe the significance of the flag. 

Others mimicked Cigrand’s sentiment in the late 1800s, perhaps as a means of assisting in the Americanization of the country’s immigrant children.  In 1889, for example, George Balch, a kindergarten teacher in New York City planned activities for his students to recognize the flag on June 14.  Soon after, the State Board of Education of New York adopted Flag Day as a holiday to be observed by all public schools in the state.  Two years later, the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia held a Flag Day celebration and the following year the New York Society of the Sons of the Revolution officially observed Flag Day.  In 1893, Dr. Edward Brooks, then Superintendent of Public Schools of Philadelphia endorsed a resolution that would allow school children in that city to celebrate Flag Day.

On May 30, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson officially requested that Flag Day be recognized as a national holiday occurring every June 14 but it was not until President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress on August 3, 1949 that June 14 was officially established as National Flag Day. 

There are now 27 official versions of the flag, changing each time a new state was officially added to the nation.  All 27 versions can be seen on display in the Americanism Center Avenue of Flags of the National Flag Day Foundation’s headquarters located in Waubeka, Wisconsin where Bernard J. Cigrand was born.  Though our nation and our flag have undergone dramatic changes since the Stars and Stripes were first adopted, the sentiment that the flag represents remains unchanged.

I have never been to Waubeka, Wisconsin, but I have visited the Flag House in Baltimore, Maryland.  Built in 1793, this house was the home and place of business of Mary Pickersgill, the woman who made the flag that flew over Fort McHenry in 1812 and inspired attorney Francis Scott Key to write our national anthem.  As you may know, that flag is part of a famous exhibit in the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History in Washington, DC and is one of our nation’s cherished artifacts.  While there are many famous flags in our nation’s capital, my favorite is the flag on the USMC War Memorial which represents the sacrifices that so many have made to preserve our nation’s independence and freedoms.

This Sunday, please fly your flag proudly and take a moment to reflect on the historic and symbolic importance of the values and sentiments it represents.

Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President in 2002. In September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston was appointed to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity by the U.S. Secretary of Education in 2019. He also serves as a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), as a Trustee of The American College of Financial Services, as a member of the board of Our Community Salutes - USA, and as a member and chair of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.

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