Flag Day: Las Cruces police chief reflects on history, freedom

Flag Day: Las Cruces police chief reflects on history, freedom

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american-flag-background-1477488138ztPBy Mike Cook
Las Cruces Bulletin

Today is Flag Day.

It celebrates the date in 1777 (241 years ago) when the Second Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the United States.

“What an appropriate day to ask such a question (What does the American flag mean to you?) – the 74th anniversary of D-Day (June 6),” said Las Cruces Police Chief Patrick Gallagher. “A day that says everything you need to know about our flag. A day when thousands of young men, mostly teenagers from all walks of life, half a world away from their homes, stormed the beaches of Normandy in the name of liberty to defend everything our flag represents.  And those things they were defending are what our flag means to me. The things we take for granted every day…our freedom to think and say almost anything we want…our freedom to worship God or not worship at all…essentially, our freedom to be ourselves without fear of oppression.

Gallagher 1“As the grandson of immigrants who fled religious and political persecution to start a new life in this country, and the proud son of one of those brave men who came ashore at Normandy, to me our flag represents a beacon of hope to the rest of the world,” Gallagher said. “And although we may not always agree on everything in this country, the one thing we will always agree on and fight to defend, is our right to liberty.”

Gallagher became Las Cruces police chief earlier this year. He began his law enforcement career with the New York City Police Department as a patrolman in 1984. In more than 20 years with the department, he rose through the ranks to captain, executive officer for the 60th Precinct and deputy commander.

Gallagher was a first responder to both the Feb. 26, 1993 and Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan.

In 2009, Gallagher became T or C police chief. He joined the Santa Fe Police Department in 2012, became interim chief in July 2015 and permanent chief in January 2016.

HISTORY OF FLAG DAY

“One of the key players in the founding of National Flag Day was Bernard J. Cigrand (1866-1932), a child of Luxembourgian immigrants,” according to http://blog.americanflags.com.

Cigrand was a 19-year-old teacher at Stony Hill School, a one-room school in Waubeka, Wisconsin, where Cigrand and his students celebrated the first Flag Day on June 14, 1885. He continued to advocate for a national Flag Day, which finally happened with a presidential order signed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. An Act of Congress made Flag Day on June 14 the law of the land in 1946.

“The Stars and Stripes, the official national symbol of the United States of America was authorized by Congress on that Saturday of June 14, 1777 in the fifth item of the days agenda,” according to www.nationalflagday.com. “The entry in the journal of the Continental Congress 1774-89 Vol. Vlll 1777 reads ‘Resolved that the flag of the thirteen United States be Thirteen stripes alternate red and white: that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.’”

“It is the universal custom to display the American flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open,” according to www.flagandbanner.com/flags/flag_etiquette.asp. ‘However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.”

Mike Cook may be reached at mike@lascrucesbulletin.com.

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