Rick BissonOn July 4, 1776, the United States adopted the Declaration of Independence through which the 13 American colonies declared themselves independent from Britain. Two hundred and forty-one years later, the Fourth of July is one of the United States’ most widely celebrated holidays. Across the country, carnivals pop up, parades are thrown and fireworks are lit.

The Fourth of July is a time for our nation to display symbols of our patriotic pride, from decorations of flags and bunting to patriotic patios and desserts. During the summer months, red, white and blue cover the nation.

One of the most widely-recognized ways to show patriotic pride is to hang one or more flags at home or places of business. On June 14, 1777 the Second Continental Congress passed the Flag Resolution, which stated that the United States flag be 13 stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.

The Flag Resolution did not specify any particular arrangement for the stars and there were several different versions. The current design is its 27th; the design of the flag has been modified officially 26 times since 1777. It is important to note that no U.S. flag ever becomes obsolete and each flag remains a legal flag and may be flown at anytime.

When hanging a flag, it’s important to do so respectfully by following the rules of flag etiquette. Homes with a flagpole should be mindful it’s not necessary to lower the flag every night as long as it is illuminated; however, the flag should be removed in inclement weather.
There are a few days when it is recommended to fly the flag at half staff: May 15, Peace Officers Memorial Day; Sept. 11; the Sunday of Fire Prevention Week (early October); and Dec. 7, National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

For Memorial Day, it’s recommended the flag be flown at half staff from sunrise until noon. Other days are sometimes added, as well; see the Half Staff American Flag Notifications website for updates.

When displaying more than one flag, the U.S. flag should be flown to the observer’s left. If the flag is suspended, whether horizontally or vertically, be sure the union (the starry part) is in the upper left.

With fans and bunting, the issue is style rather than code. A simple and inexpensive way to start is with a few hand-held flags displayed as a bouquet, stuck in containers, planting beds and along walkways. Bunting hung from porches provides an extra touch and splash of patriotism.

Dress up the porch, patio, deck or other outdoor spaces with outdoor furniture, pillows, banners, containers and other accessories in red, white and blue. Create a patriotic patio garden with red, white, and blue flowers. Tie in Midcoast Maine’s maritime history through creative uses of galvanized buckets, rope and ship decorations.

For those planning to host or attend a Fourth of July celebration, creating a red, white and blue dish can be another simple way to show patriotism. For a light and fruity treat, pair strawberries, Maine blueberries and whipped cream with a classic white cake. Entertain the kids for an afternoon and transform simple sugar cookies into patriotic works of art with the use of food dye, buttercream frosting and red, white and blue sprinkles.

Once a year, on the Fourth of July, we gather with our friends and family to celebrate our nation. A nation built on belief. A belief that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. What a reason to celebrate.

From our family to yours, have a happy and safe Fourth of July.

This column is produced by Rick Bisson and his family, who own Bisson Real Estate with Keller Williams Realty of Midcoast and Sugarloaf.