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State Patriotic Day pays tribute to nation

Colors are massed in Tacoma

This year’s Massing of the Colors and Patriotic Day event saw more than 100 military and military supporting units in attendance at Stadium High School Feb. 25. Photo credit: Gary Lott

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One would be hard pressed to not already associate the American flag with patriotism, but the term, "Massing of the Colors", isn't necessarily a household name.

"The American public in general may've automatically associated patriotism with Massing of the Colors," said Patriotic Day event coordinator, retired Maj. Gen. John Hemphill.  "But the new Washington State Patriotic Day from its title states the purpose is patriotism and includes the name of our foremost patriot President George Washington." 

It is no surprise that Washington state will now tie the gap between the importance of honoring patriotism with this nation's flag and George Washington's iconic history with the flag.

"The American flag is the most prominent patriotic symbol of our country," said Hemphill.  "General George Washington's Continental Army was the first to fly the American flag in June of 1777 at the Middlebrook encampment in New Jersey."

Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as our official national flag June 14, 1777.

Since then, the American flag has been and continues to be proudly flown by all of our country's military organizations wherever they are located, whether that be on land or sea.

The symbolism attributed with the American flag may seem to have lost its impact in the recent years, but the Washington State Patriotic Day provided the perfect opportunity to honor the flag as George Washington did, to honor the sacrifices of this nation's servicemembers.

"Freedom is not free. Patriotism expresses the will and determination that our country will remain free and a beacon of free democracy to the world."

That important link between patriotism and the American flag is the primary message and intended goal of Patriotic Day and Massing of the Colors for Washingtonians.

The Puget Sound Chapter of Military Order of the World Wars (MOWW) hosted Patriotic Day and the Washington State Massing of the Colors event, Feb. 25, at Stadium High School.

The purpose of the patriotic event is to celebrate active military personnel and veterans in the Evergreen State, as well as to celebrate the birth of this nation's first patriot, George Washington (Feb. 22).

This annual event held every year at Stadium High School took on a new extended look by renaming the event to Patriotic Day.

The name change implemented hoped to better inform the public of the intended mission of the Massing of the Colors event, even for those that had never heard of Massing of the Colors.

"The first Patriotic Day included a band concert, singing, crowd participation, patriotic awards, attendance rewards, flags, and warm feeling about our first patriot, George Washington," said Patriot Day event planner Dave Gibson.

Although many organizations were responsible for this day of honoring Washington state patriotism, there is one that has been instrumental to the event's success since 1923.

"The Military Order of the World Wars was proud to organize the 2017 Patriotic Day in conjunction with other Veterans Service Organizations and the Pierce County /Tacoma Chamber of Commerce for the benefit of our communities," said Gibson.

The name change was undoubtedly a success as the amount of participating units was much higher than the event's best year ever.

"Flag units were almost doubled at 110," said Gibson.  "It wasn't just the flag units either, as the amount of spectators were significantly increased as well."

"Yankee Doodle Dandy" was responsible for one of the most memorable moments from this year's event.

"One of my favorite moments this year was when the Sons of the American Revolution led in the joint color guard and played their fife and drum rendition of "Yankee Doodle Dandy" to the delight of the crowd," said Gibson.

As this event continues to grow and shape into whatever title it may be, the primary message of celebrating patriotism and this nation's servicemembers will continue to stay the same.

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