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And What Is So Rare About a Day in June?

Perhaps not in today’s schools but during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries most students memorized all the words, beginning with those above, from the poem by James Russell Lowell. And, indeed June is generally considered to be a placid month that usually has higher temperatures since it is further away from the winter season and much closer to summer. However, historically in 1848 in Paris, France the days would not have been viewed as calm when the “June Days” uprising by workers to protest the government’s closing of their Workshops did not go well as 10,000 of them were either killed or injured and another 4,000 were deported to Algeria.

Also, historically, D-Day on June 6, 1944, signalled the beginning of the Normandy Invasion to liberate Northwestern Europe from Nazi control that eventually led to the Allied victory in Europe during World War II. However, it has been estimated that the Germans had between 4,000 and 9,000 killed or injured, while Allied casualties were about 10,000 with 4,414 actual confirmed deaths. And a more recent tragedy to occur in June 1968 was the assassination of U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

The month of June was named after the goddess Juno, the goddess of marriage and childbirth. In ancient times the Roman festivals included celebrating June 1st as the marriage of Jupiter to his bride Juno, hence the proliferation of June brides today. During earlier centuries people also considered June to be a perfect time to bring folks together for weddings as it was the month when most of them had bathed again after a long cold winter, and since flowers were then in bloom then it was hoped that their bouquet would overcome the scent from those who had chosen not to clean up. It is also interesting that according to the early Celtic calendar, the first moon occurring after June 21st (the summer solstice) was known as the honeymoon and has since then been known as the time following the wedding.

June is the month with the longest daylight hours, and it should also be noted the many events that happened in Junes past. It was in June 1539 that DeSoto claimed Florida for Spain; in June 1867 that President Andrew Johnson announced the purchase of Alaska from Russia; and in June of 1903 that the Ford Motor Company was founded. Until 2017 when Donald Trump was inaugurated, no President, other than George Bush, Sr., had a birthday in June. The plays "Antony and Cleopatra" and "Henry IV" Part 1 are the only two Shakespeare plays that mention the month of June. It has been said of Scotland that there are only two seasons: June and winter. While the name June was the 39th most popular name for a girl in 1925, it had fallen out of the top 1,000 by 1986.

Of course, there are a couple of special days during June that are worth mentioning. June 14, 1775, is when, after reaching a consensus position in the Committee of the Whole, Congress adopted "the American Continental Army," and the United States Army of today celebrates its birthday on that date. Also, on June 14 our current President Trump celebrates his birthday. And, while June 14th is now celebrated as Flag Day, the entire month of June is recognized as National Flag Month.

According to legend, seamstress Betsy Ross was commissioned by George Washington in 1776 to make the first American flag and that when they met, she suggested that, rather than the six-pointed stars in his original sketch that they be five-pointed. It was June 14, 1777, that the Continental Congress adopted the first flag of the United States, but there was no recommendation for any observance of the occasion at that time. Credit goes to Victor Morris, of Hartford Connecticut, who in 1861 suggested that a “Flag Day” be established to honor the adoption of the American flag. The city responded by carrying out a patriotic order to pray for the success of the Federal arms and the preservation of the Union on that day, but it did not become a tradition.

In 1895, Bernard Cigrand, a grade school teacher at the Stony Hill School in Waubeka, Wisconsin, is recognized as initiating the first formal observance of Flag Day. Following that, Cigrand continued to promote patriotism, respect for the flag and observance of Flag Day around the country for many years and is credited with being the "Father of Flag Day", since he was responsible for almost single-handedly helping to establish the holiday. President Wilson in 1916 issued a proclamation establishing June 14 as Flag Day and in 1949 President Truman signed an Act of Congress that made the day an official observance, though not a Federal holiday. The weeks of June 10–16, 2018 and June 09–15, 2019 have been designated as National Flag Week and during those weeks the flag should be displayed on all government buildings and the president will issue a proclamation urging U.S. citizens to fly the American flag for the duration of that week.

Though in ancient times fatherhood was celebrated in Catholic Europe on March 19, which is Saint Joseph’s Feast Day, official observance to show appreciation for fathers took a long time to be established in the United States. It was the Spanish and Portuguese who first brought this celebration of fathers to our shores but outside of Catholic traditions fatherhood was not celebrated in this country at that time. The first such observance for fathers was held on July 5, 1908, at a Methodist Episcopal Church in Fairmont, West Virginia as the pastor remembered the 361 men, 250 of them fathers, who died in a mining accident leaving almost 1,000 fatherless children.

In 1913 a bill was introduced in Congress that would recognize fathers, but it only languished there, and despite later attempts by Presidents Wilson and Coolidge, Congress would not agree to make such a concession. However, a proposal submitted by Senator Margaret Chase Smith in 1957 which accused Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while continuing to honor mothers, thus singling out just one of two parents, had the desired effect. Finally, in 1966 President Johnson issued the first proclamation to honor fathers on the third Sunday in June and in 1972 the day was made a permanent holiday when it was signed into law by President Nixon.

On June 21, we have the summer solstice, also known as midsummer, when the earth’s rotation will bring the Northern Hemisphere in position to fully face the sun, and around the world, there are various events which will occur on that and subsequent days. For example, in Iceland, in addition to enjoying the three-day Secret Solstice Midnight Sun Music Festival, people will gather to observe the sunset occurring at about Midnight and sunrise at about 3 AM.  At Stonehenge, a baffling construction, cloaked in mystery, people will gather to observe the sun rising above the stone circle, which aligns perfectly with the summer solstice sunrise. Other options could include participating in the yoga event in Times Square, New York City, watching the solstice fires in Austria or visiting the Skansen Museum in Stockholm, Sweden where you can enjoy the full “midsummer” experience from folk music to maypole revelry. Or one could choose to just remain home in Texas and appreciate what is so rare as a day in June!

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