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Why isn't Flag Day a federal holiday?

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Jeff Morehead/Herald-Press/AP

(Read caption) From left, VFW Post 2689 Commander Mike Smith, Quartermaster Leslie Ackermann, and Chaplain/Service Officer Mike Harrell salute as Past Commander Jerry Walling raises the flag to half-staff on Wednesday, in honor of Flag Day, in Huntington, Indiana. Flag Day on Thursday, June 14, commemorates the anniversary of the adoption of the US flag by the Continental Congress in 1777.

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Today is Flag Day 2012. Flag Day, June 14, commemorates the anniversary of the adoption of the US flag by the Continental Congress in 1777. It’s celebrated across the nation by ordinary citizens hanging out their red-white-and-blue Stars and Stripes. President Harry Truman made sure of that in 1949 when he signed a congressional resolution setting June 14 as Flag Day’s official date. But it is not a full-blown federal holiday. Why is that?

The short answer is that Flag Day was not included in the 1968 Uniform Holiday Act. This legislation set the framework for the 11 official federal holidays and multiple three-day weekends that US workers (and mattress discounters, new car dealers, and other sale-oriented retailers) know and love today.

The longer answer is that Flag Day is a bit of an orphan holiday. It does not have the historical cachet of Washington’s Birthday. (No, that February day off is not a federal “Presidents’ Day.” Look it up.) Nor does it have the backing of organized interest groups that helped produce Labor Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Here’s our take on some of the headwinds Flag Day faced, importance-wise:

Bad timing

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