Bernard J Cigrand
Flag Day, observed annually on June 14th in the United States, commemorates the adoption of the national flag and the values it represents. The idea of establishing a dedicated day to honor the flag was championed by several individuals, among whom Bernard J. Cigrand played a prominent role. Cigrand, a schoolteacher turned dentist, is often regarded as the "Father of Flag Day."
Bernard J. Cigrand, born on October 1, 1866, in Waubeka, Wisconsin, was a visionary educator and patriot. Cigrand's early experiences kindled his passion for the American flag and its significance. He was inspired by the flag-raising ceremonies on June 14, 1885, where he taught at Stony Hill School in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin. He chose June 14th to honor the day in 1777 when the Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the United States. Cigrand's efforts to promote Flag Day continued over the years, as he delivered speeches, wrote articles, and organized events to raise awareness about the importance of the flag. Bernard Cigrand honorably served under his beloved Flag as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy in the Medical Corps during World War I.
Others shared Cigrand’s dedication including George Balch, a New York City kindergarten teacher, who adopted Cigrand's concept and began celebrating Flag Day with his students. Additionally, in 1889, the principal of a Pennsylvania orphanage, George Morris, designated June 14th as Flag Day, leading his students in patriotic activities centered on the flag. Cigrand's efforts gained momentum over the years, as he continued to promote Flag Day through articles, speeches, and public appearances. His work caught the attention of various organizations, including the Sons of the American Revolution and the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia. Other organizations, including the National Americanism Commission of the American Legion and the National Flag Day Association, contributed to the advocacy and recognition of Flag Day.
While Cigrand's efforts helped lay the groundwork for Flag Day, it wasn't until he was living in Batavia in 1916 when President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation officially establishing June 14th as National Flag Day. This recognition marked a significant step toward honoring the flag's enduring significance to the nation. However, it wasn't until August 3, 1949, that Flag Day was officially designated as a federal holiday. President Harry S. Truman signed an Act of Congress making Flag Day a recognized holiday, a testament to the enduring legacy of individuals like Bernard J. Cigrand and their unwavering commitment to American values and unity.
Cigrand passed away on May 16, 1932, but his efforts have left an enduring mark on American culture, reminding citizens of the importance of the flag and the values it represents. His dedication and advocacy led to the establishment of Flag Day, a day that continues to inspire patriotism and appreciation for the United States flag. He is buried in Montgomery, Illinois.
For those interested in further exploring the history of Flag Day and Bernard J. Cigrand's contributions, resources such as books, articles, and historical records provide valuable insights. "The History of Flag Day" by Elmo Roper and "The Evolution of Flag Day" by Harold A. Logan offer detailed examinations of the holiday's origins and development. Additionally, local historical societies and museums in Batavia, Illinois, may provide information about Cigrand's life and his influence on the establishment of Flag Day.
Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley
National Postal Museum – Smithsonian