Charleston’s historic forts celebrate Flag Day with fun, educational events

  • Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2013 6:35 p.m.
Brad Nettles/postandcourier.com Fort Moultrie National Park ranger Dennis Birr (left) and education technician Sydney Schneider show the proper way to fold an American flag, so that no red is visible. Fort Sumter National Monument will celebrate the 97th anniversary of Flag Day at the Visitor Education Center on Concord Street Friday. Buy this photo

While not on par with Memorial Day or Independence Day, Flag Day has special significance at Charleston’s Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie.

The history of Flag Day

1777 — The Second Continental Congress passes a resolution establishing the look of the American flag.

1916 — President Woodrow Wilson issues a proclamation establishing Flag Day.

1949 — President Harry Truman signs legislation establishing June 14 as National Flag Day.

“Flag Day isn’t widely observed, but because we have such a connection to flags, we inform people and educate people on the flags of our country,” said Sydney Schneider, education technician at Fort Moultrie.

Friday marks the 97th anniversary of Flag Day, which was established nationally by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. In 1949, President Harry Truman signed legislation that designated June 14 of every year as National Flag Day.

The Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center will host a Flag Day celebration, and Schneider hopes that the downtown location, along with Flag Day falling on a Friday, will attract more visitors.

“The program gives families and kids an idea of what our flags are,” Schneider said.

Fort Sumter shares a connection with Flag Day thanks to five historical flags in the fort’s possession. The flags include a 33-star American flag that flew over Fort Sumter on April 12 and 13, 1861, the beginning of the Civil War; a 35-star American flag raised over Fort Sumter on Feb. 18, 1865, when the Union retook the fort; a South Carolina flag, and the first and second national flags of the Confederacy that flew over Fort Sumter during the Civil War.

Some of the planned Flag Day events include coloring historical flags, designing personalized flags and lessons on how to properly fold a flag.

Schneider said the process starts by taking the flag’s two edges and folding them together, then doing it again. From then on, “it’s like folding a paper football,” she said.

A properly folded flag has tight, crisp corners with no red areas, or “bleeding,” showing.

Dennis Birr, a park ranger at Fort Moultrie, said a correctly folded American flag is in the shape of a triangle to symbolize the triangular hats Revolutionary War soldiers wore. He also said the stars are visible in a correctly folded flag because it was the last thing soldiers would see at night.

Schneider said she hopes to teach visitors about lesser-known rules of flag etiquette, such as that American flags must be illuminated by sunlight or another light source as long as the flag is on display, and that flying a flag upside down is officially recognized as a distress signal.

The Flag Day celebration will be held at the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and will be held in a shaded area, according to Schneider. The Flag Day activities are free to the public.

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