Flag Day with Michele Drier

Today is Flag Day, a much more low-key celebration than the Fourth of July, Memorial Day or Veterans’ Day now, but it wasn’t always so.

The first flag day was June 14, 1885 when a Wisconsin teacher created the Flag’s Birthday, in honor of the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes.

The idea caught on and in 1894 the governor of New York directed that all public buildings fly the flag on June 14.

Nationally, Woodrow Wilson established Flag Day in 1916 and on August 3, 1949, President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14 of each year as National Flag Day.

But I remember Flag Day because of events that happened June 14, 1940.

That was the day that Paris fell to the Nazis, and my former husband was a witness.

He was years older than me and a German Jew.  His family had sent him out of Germany to what they thought was safety, a boarding school in St. Denis, just outside Paris.

He talked about watching Nazi troops come through the garden shooting, and then how he and the other children walked most of the way to an orphanage in Vichy France run by a Swiss citizen.

With several other children from the orphanage, he was smuggled to Lisbon where they managed to get on the last refugee ship for the United States and he ended up in an orphanage in Los Angeles.

He was the only member of his immediate family to survive.

As a baby boomer, born and raised in California, this story was only a tale, until I met him and his friends, some of whom still had numbers tattooed on their arms.

When I began writing my traditional mystery, Edited for Death, I thought about both the young GIs who fought and died in the Second World War, as well as those millions of Europeans killed or displaced by the Nazis.

He died several years ago but I used his story as the bones for the Nazi-hunter, Henry Blomberg in Edited for Death.

I don’t really celebrate Flag Day much.  I do, however, always remember the date and remember what happened on June 14, 1940.

And then I married a man who was born on June 14, 1940.  That date won’t live in infamy, but it stays alive in my mind.

So today, the 127th anniversary of the first Flag Day celebration and the 235th anniversary of the adoption of the Stars and Stripes as our national flag, I’ll spend a few minutes with a frightened eight-year-old boy as he watches soldiers come through the garden. And think about the U.S. forces and the Allies who finally chased them out.

Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian.  She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home.  During her career in journalism — as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers – she won awards for producing investigative series.
Her mystery Edited for Death, called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review and a Memorable Book for 2011 on DorothyL, is available in paperback at Amazon and B&N.
Her paranormal romance series, SNAP: The Kandesky vampire chronicles, is available in ebook at Amazon.  The first book, SNAP: The World Unfolds, received a 4-star rating from the Paranormal Romance Guild.  The second book, SNAP: New Talent, is now also available from Amazon and the novella Plague: A Love Story will be available this June.

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