Flag Day

The American Flag is an iconic symbol, known and revered by citizens.  June 14 marks the annual Flag Day observance, but for some runners, one day of displaying their patriotism is not enough.

Twenty-time Marine Corps Marathon runner Ray DeFrees has diligently completed the annual 26.2 mile event since 1992, often encouraging struggling runners to dig down and complete the journey.  For years, DeFrees has inspired others with a special type of motivation by handing off the flag during the MCM.

“People usually ask to carry the flag,” says the admitted back-of-the pack leader.  “Inevitably, their pace picks up once they’re holding it [the flag].”

Fellow flag runner Steve Bozeman embodies both national and Marine Corps pride as he and teammate Mark Mishler form a small color guard detachment with Bozeman carrying the Stars and Stripes and Mishler the Marine Corps colors.  

“I started running with the flag in 1987 to honor those who didn’t make it back from Vietnam,” explained Bozeman, a former Marine Corps Sergeant and Vietnam veteran.  “Since 9-11, we’ve had about 19 people run with us each year.  There’s always someone slower, so we slow down to that pace to make sure we all cross the finish line together. You never leave a Marine behind.” 

Bozeman2MCM director and retired Marine Maj. Rick Nealis states, “MCM runners are incredibly patriotic and this event really represents the military spirit embodied by the flag. Seeing Ray and other runners cross the finish line holding the flag is truly a moving experience that celebrates the flag, our Nation, and our military forces.”

The origins of Flag Day can be traced to the Flag Resolution of 1777. The Second Continental Congress passed this resolution on June 14, 1777 in an attempt to formally declare what the flag should look like.  Though the resolution gave a few guidelines, flags still varied in composition.  Enter President William Howard Taft in 1912 and the signature of Executive Order 1637 specifying uniform proportions.

Four celebratory years later on May 30, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a government proclamation declaring June 14 as Flag Day; however, it would take one more President to formally establish this day of observance. On Aug. 3, 1949, President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14 as Flag Day.

When celebrating, it is important to adhere to the established code for proper display and use of the National Flag.  Title 4, chapter 1, of the United States Code identifies the standards relating to proper display the American Flag. The code declares that as the symbol or our country, the flag is considered a living thing and should be treated as such.  Bozeman1

So whether you call our flag the Stars and Stripes, the Star Spangled Banner, Old Glory, or simply “the flag,” embrace Flag Day and display or run with the flag with honor.

“When I’m running, people always tell me ‘I like your flag,’” states DeFrees.  “I always remind them, it’s not my flag, it’s ours.”

For more information regarding to the proper display of the flag, as well as its history and care, please visit http://flagcode.us/US_Flag_Code/.

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