Flag Day in Kearney
A picture hangs in the Archives which
is frequently noticed by visitors. It was probably taken from a
rooftop on the east side of Central Avenue looking down and to the west
side. The block of Central Ave between 21st and 22nd St. is completely
filled with people. There is a platform in the street with elderly gentlemen
seated on it. Signs on buildings behind them are for Killion Clothing and
Today that is the front of Hawthorn
Jewelry and businesses north of it.
Two American flags hang down from
about 2nd floor with the stars on the right side. Why?
The Event in 1923
June 14, 1923 – Flag Day celebration in Kearney
Estimated 2,000 people in that block
Included Teachers college student
body & school children
Men on platform are GAR members
Platform also used by song leader, speakers and the bands
High School band in new uniforms gave a preprogram concert of patriotic and
Municipal band accompanied singing during the program
All sang “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”
Invocation by Rev. Keve [Methodist minister]
Speech by visiting former commander of York GAR
Kearney school students all waving flags marched to the school ground
led by the high school band
Brief 10-minute speech about the flag, patriotism and loyalty
Group singing - “Star Spangled Banner”, Battle Hymn of the Republic” and
other patriotic songs
Speech about Flag Day, its meaning, our allegiance
Flag Day - A History
June 14 - the day the Colonial Congress adopted the American flag in
1893 – Proposed in Boston that the flag wave from every house top
1894-1915 – Celebrated informally in many cities, sporadically,
beginning in northeast.
Gradually caught on across the
1916 – President Woodrow Wilson proclamation - established June 14 as
Not a federal holiday
1937 – Pennsylvania first (and only) state to celebrate Flag Day as a
1949 August – National Flag Day was established by an Act of
[Still not a federal holiday]
Flag Day in Kearney
1894, June 14 – Mr. Osborne ran the flag up on top the opera house.
The Hub thought maybe he had
removed an extra page from his calendar and thought it was July 4.
But Osborne said this was a common
practice in the New England states and June 14 will undoubtedly be declared
a national holiday.
He was appointed as a committee of
one to work up a celebration for June 14, 1895.
1895 - The GAR talked about it. Nothing happened.
Sidney was the only town in Nebraska
to celebrate flag day
(June 13, 1895 – Granddaughter of Francis Scott Key was dismissed from her
government clerk’s job. She was supporting her 80 year old blind mother. Not
good timing by the government.)
1900 – May 1 Flag Day
In Lincoln. Parade –
A living flag of 250 persons
Some in red & white for the stripes,
13 in blue, each with white star on his/her head.
“impersonators” (reenactors) of the general and soldiers of every war
ending with thousands of school children (upper elementary) with flags.
End at university campus for unveiling of Spanish cannon.
Moses Sydenham to give a
lecture on the flag and remembrances of his time at Ft. Kearny:
first telegraph office in the county in the private room of his post office,
first news via pony express of the firing on the flag at Ft. Sumter,
spiking of the Fort Kearney guns by a democratic [southern?] commander who
democratic hiss to General Sherman at old Fort Kearney City that caused the
abandonment of Fort Kearney.”
[unfortunately there is no report on his speech reported on May 2]
1902 – 1915 –
Nebraska governors annually declared
June 14 Flag Day
People were encouraged to fly the
flag from their rooftops
Sometimes people did not know why
flags were displayed
GAR WRC’s marked the day, sometimes
publically, sometimes at their meetings
Congregational Church celebrated on
nearest Sunday sometimes
1916 – Pres. Wilson proclaimed June 14 Flag Day
Plans nationwide to make Flag Day a big celebration.
Lincoln Highway Association
planned to place flags all along the route from Boston to San Francisco
In Kearney the Commercial Club
was in charge of plans.
A flag was to
fly from every house top.
To be the
biggest celebration in Kearney ever.
to be in the parade and the program to be held at Longfellow afterward.
Parade to form at 2:30 – no
later than 2:45 – on west 25th at Normal School
Go east past
soldier’s monument, saluting as they go by,
down Central to 22nd,
Participants in Parade
GAR men & women
National Guard - The full company of the Kearney National Guard,
including members who live along the
Entire normal school student body and faculty
Boy scouts and boys on decorated wheels
Sunday School children with flags
Citizens and autos [anyone else who wanted to get in their car and
8th grade graduation scheduled for 2 p.m. June 14 at the Methodist
Changed to high school so they have time to participate in the parade,
Co. Superintendent issued a
call for all country school children to come and join the parade.
That would increase parade participation by several hundred.
The 19th Century Club arranged
for 50 young ladies to march in the parade representing all the states and
territories. There would also be a Miss Columbia and an Uncle Sam.
Young ladies from the normal
school dressed to represent the stripes and “starry” field of the flag.
All businesses were asked to close at
3:25 and remain closed until Flag Day events were over
The celebration went as planned.
The school ground was crowded for the program [all done without a P A
1918 – Thursday, Apr. 4 President declared Flag Day.
Kearneyites were encouraged to
display the flag, wear it, and decorate their cars.
Schools would have flag exercises in
Boy Scouts were to visit all homes
not displaying a flag to find out why, refer them to a committee who would
loan the one.
People in Kearney were asked to keep
the flags flying till after Saturday
Liberty Loan day, a legal holiday in some communities
but not in Kearney where businesses would be open.
Flag Day, June 14, a national holiday. No formal ceremonies in Kearney but
all are requested to display the flag.
1919 – 1921 – Now the Elks were the
ones observing Flag Day
Always have the flag hung well above
the ground, never lower than a person sitting.
Flag should be kept above your head
at all times.
Never used for draping, bunting is
made for that
Tattered flags, unless historically
important, should be destroyed privately and replaced.
Never used to drape a table
Never used as wearing apparel
[Nothing about which side the stars
should be on when hung]
And Also -
Kearney Hub – Dec. 20, 1893, p. 2 in a
section of the second column headed “After Thoughts”
Kearney Industrial School
Where is your wayward wandering boy
he roaming the streets or is he at home surrounded by good family
And if he has no home where is he?
The county judge of Lancaster county
told me on Monday that ten boys were there before his court on application
to have them sent to the reform school.
The Lincoln Call on Monday evening
said: “That reform school at Kearney must be a very large institution, ‘said
a gentleman yesterday, ‘or it would have been full long ago. Every day the
papers tell of a lad, or two or three lads, that have been sent there from
Lincoln, and if other towns do as this there must be several thousand unruly
kinds somewhere in that country.”
Many county judges are lax in this
respect and will send boys to the school who should be kept home by parents
who are too ready to shirk the responsibility of their keeping and moral
Yet the school is mostly filled with
incorrigibles – not waifs and street arabs, but sons of Christian parents,
business men and politicians, well-to-do mechanics and other good people who
should apparently be able to bring up their children properly.
The question is a serious one.
The state is handling it as well as
it is possible to handle it in a public institution, and the Nebraska
industrial reform school is a model of its class, yet it must be evident to
honest, earnest, thoughtful people the root of the evil is in the home or
with the father or mother not suited for the most sacred trust reposed in
man on earth – the rearing of a child.