Tuesday, the United States will celebrate its 65th Flag Day since Congress established June 14th as a national holiday in August 1949.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation establishing June 14th as Flag Day to commemorate the Second Continental Congress’ adoption of the United States flag in 1777. The U.S. Congress would later make the day a federal holiday in 1949, as previously mentioned.
Flags are very important. As time has gone by, flags have become symbols for causes and rallying points for revolutions. Flags have been in existence much longer than other traditions, with some flags dating back over 4,000 years to Iran circa 3,000 B.C.E.
It is believed the earliest primary use of the flag was as a visual marker during battle. Should a soldier become separated from his unit during a battle, he need only look for his units banner to find them.
Painting by John Paul Strain
The soldier holding the flag was called a bannerman, and though not all bannermen rode horses, (You were wondering where the horse plug was coming. Admit it.) many did because it put him on a higher visual plane and it gave him increased mobility. Mounted bannermen were increasingly utilized in cavalry units.
The connection between horses, military and flags continues on the home front. The Arlington National Cemetery employs a caisson unit to serve as coffin bearers in the funeral processions of fallen soldiers.
Photo source: http://www.oldguard.mdw.army.mil/specialty-platoons/caisson
A team of seven horses and four military personnel escort the fallen to their final resting place with expert precision. The soldiers come as trained infantryman and practice rigorously to perfect a riding style the military hasn’t used since 1948.
As technology gave way to methods of warfare, the flag on the battlefield became obsolete. Lacking any practical application, the flag transitioned into a symbolic role. To fly the flag was an act of patriotism, and that patriotism became tradition in different forms across the country like we can see in the caisson unit.
In America, the horse is almost as symbolic of our culture as the red, white and blue. America was built on the backs of horses. It’s only natural the two are often lumped together.
Rodeos, for example, combine the best of both elements. Before the day’s festivities begin, the day starts with a presentation of the colors, or the grand entry. It’s like any other sporting event you’ve been to, except with an equine twist. Often, the rodeo queen carries the national flag.
Carrying the flag is the most visible job a rodeo queen performs outside of representing her position and the rodeo, and it’s considered a great honor in much the same way it was considered a great honor to be bannerman of your clan or house in the middle ages.
In today’s world, flags are meant to symbolize the best parts of a nation or governing body, just like a well-cared-for horse often represents the best aspects of his trainer.
So with that said, we here at RIDE TV hope you have an awesome Flag Day that brings out the best in you!