Happy Flag Day! Did you know that today’s holiday would not exist but for the actions of a 19-year old schoolteacher from Wisconsin?

In other words, anyone, anywhere can make a difference.

In 1885, Bernard J. Cigrand was teaching in a one-room schoolhouse in Waubeka, Wisconsin. He’d devised a simple class exercise for his students: They were to write essays about the flag in commemoration of the flag’s birthday on June 14.

Perhaps some of these essays mentioned the reason that June 14 is considered to be the flag’s birthday? It was on this day in 1777 that the Continental Congress first adopted a national flag for the newly declared American nation. Congress has made some changes since then, but the basic design of the flag remains the same: “thirteen stripes, alternate red and white” with a union of “thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

Surely Cigrand could not have imagined where this simple class exercise would take him! He would end up spending literally the rest of his life fighting for a national flag holiday.

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