Every June 14, we celebrate “Flag Day” because our flag is much more than a piece of fabric; it represents the sacrifice of those who served and unites us all as Americans. The flag is a symbol for freedom, equality, and justice.

Our state has a special place in the history of the American Flag. The “Father of Flag Day,” Bernard J. Cigrand, is in fact, a Wisconsin native and a grade school teacher from Waubeka. He worked tirelessly to promote a day of national observance for our flag. He traveled across the country delivering speeches and publishing articles and editorials on patriotism and the flag.

Today, it is people like Dave Latimer who remind us that honoring our nation’s Flag is still important. Latimer is a Commander at the American Legion Post 449. Each year, the American Legion holds a ceremony on Veterans Day to pay tribute to our veterans and properly retire any used flags brought to the post.  The ceremony includes an Honor Guard salute and Taps, and it deeply inspires anyone who attends.

Commander Latimer and his post are passionate about why it is so important to show our respect to the American Flag.

“This is an opportunity to demonstrate our respect for the Nation’s Colors,” Latimer said. “Most Americans don’t know how the flag should be properly displayed and most people have no clue how to respect the flag when it’s no longer serviceable. This flag is more than a piece of cloth but a living entity—it represents you and me. As long as that flag is flying, we have freedom.

“At the American Legion, we receive our Nation’s Colors that have honorably flown above businesses and homes, and now because of weathering effects, are no longer presentable," he continued. "Then, at our Veteran’s Day ceremony those flags are presented to be retired with solemn honors by the Officers of the Post, whether torn, tattered, or faded.”

It’s clear that flag etiquette represents much more than following some rules to Commander Latimer and his post. These veterans fought for the flag and all it represents. They risked their own lives and lost many friends and peers while serving. We can honor them, and all of our veterans, by showing our respect to the Flag.

This year, I was honored to join the Brookfield American Legion at their post to commemorate Flag Day. I hope you will join me in taking this week as an opportunity to respect our Flag, remember what it symbolizes, and honor all those who fought to defend it.