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Americans celebrate Flag Day

By Kevin Liles

For Ben Miller, today, Flag Day, has added significance n it's also his wedding anniversary.

"My wife said she didn't know that it was a holiday," he said. "But I did."

The 67-year-old Army veteran said Flag Day, which is observed every June 14, should be more important to Americans.

"The flag is very important to me. I just feel like it is something that we're supposed to fly," said Miller, who lives in McDonough. "And I just can't understand why some people won't do it."

Flag Day didn't become an official U.S. holiday until 1916, when President Woodrow Wilson signed it into law. But it has been celebrated since 1885, according to www.usflag.org.

In 1885, B.J. Cigrand, a schoolteacher in Fredonia, Wisconsin, arranged for his students to observe June 14 as the "Flag Birthday," according to the Web site. The day was the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of the Stars and Stripes as the American flag.

Several school systems across the U.S. also began celebrating the flag, as well as the state of New York, before becoming the official holiday, according to the Web site.

Miller, who is president of the Henry County chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, said he is always reminding people of the flag's importance and how to properly display it.

"I'm raising Cain with a man over here right now because he won't change his flag," he said. "It's all torn and ragged."

Old or torn American flags can be disposed of in Clayton County at the American Legion Post on Monday at 7 p.m., said Commander John Harper.

"Any flag that is tattered, torn or faded can be disposed of," Harper said. "And we will give flags to anyone that needs one."

The flags are burned according to flag etiquette, but Harper said the process should be referred to as a "flag disposal" or "flag retirement," not flag burning.

A.P. Crane of Jonesboro has had to dispose of a few flags himself.

The 81-year-old is on his second flagpole, and has been through at least four American flags in his lifetime.

Crane has had a flag in front of his Walt Stephens Road home for so long that he can't remember when he first put one up.

"It's been at least 20 years," he said.

Lem Phillips, a 75-year-old veteran of the Korean War, also takes much pride in the American flag. One has been in front of his home on Jodeco Road in Jonesboro since Sept. 11, 2001.

"I've been flying one from time to time for years, but I've kept it up all the time since 9-11," he said

Schoolchildren should be taught more about the importance of the Stars and Stripes and proper etiquette on how to care for it, Miller said.

"It's not taught in school like it used to be," he said. "It's just not respected like it used to be."