Every June 14, Americans across the United States observe Flag Day to commemorate the adoption of the country’s national flag.
In Princeton, the annual Flag Day ceremony organized by the Spirit of Princeton, a nonprofit group, occurred on the plaza at the Princeton Municipal Building with a color guard and patriotic music. The Spirit of Princeton has presented this ceremony for more than 20 years.
Gathered together, residents, students, members of the Princeton Fire Department, Princeton First Aid & Rescue, Police Department and Spirit of Princeton, along with township officials took part in observing the day through the local ceremony.
“I think it is a great local patriotic event. I think the flag symbolizes the country, the values of the country, and that hopefully people understand it is a symbol to rally behind,” Mayor Mark Freda said. “But it is only a symbol and we need to respect each others opinions, our use or disregard of the flag. We all have rights and we have the right to what we think and how we want to act. That is what makes the country great.”
Duty is a huge part of the flag, Freda said.
“There is a large turnout from Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad, the Princeton Fire Department, a great turnout from our Police Department,” Freda said. “These are people that give to us everyday and they are making time to come over here and acknowledge the flag and what it stands for. I think all of us, all the residents of our town, state and country should take a pause and say wait a minute I am in a country that offers me so much I should do my part to support my country.”
The Continental Congress approved the design of the original flag on June 14, 1777. According to the Library of Congress, President Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation establishing a national Flag Day for June 14 in 1916.
Decades later, President Harry Truman in 1949 would sign into law Congressional legislation, which designated June 14 as national Flag Day.
During the June 14 ceremony in Princeton, The Garden Statesmen, a local a capella group, along with the police department color guard, who marched and carried the American flag, kicked off the morning event.
The Master of Ceremonies and keynote speaker was Keith Wadsworth, a volunteer Princeton firefighter and grandson of Ray Wadsworth. Ray Wadsworth passed away in 2018 and was a founder of the Spirit of Princeton and started this Flag Day ceremony event in Princeton.
“This is a good way to honor everything that this nation has done and all the men and women behind it. This day is also a remembrance for the men and women of not just the military, but the men and women of fire, EMS, law enforcement and everybody that has some way of contributing to protect our freedoms,” he said.
He added that the day also serves as some memories of his grandfather and a way to carry them on.
“This ceremony is something I will hold on to as long as I can to keep it going and maybe one day pass it down to my children,” Wadsworth said.
As his keynote remarks closed at the ceremony, Wadsworth would head over to a metal drum to retire an old flag by burning it. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, the approved method of disposing unserviceable flags is by burning.
Bagpiper Chris King of the Princeton Police Department would help close out the event and the Princeton tradition.
“The flag symbolizes justice, safety, its protection and protection of civil liberties to me. People tend to forget those little things,” Wadsworth said. “I hope people find their own symbolism behind the flag.”