Patriotic Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day

scrabble tiles spelling Mothers Day

Mother’s Day will soon be upon us, and what better way to show your appreciation of everything your mother does for you than a special patriotic gift bought especially for her?

Mother’s Day is traditionally celebrated on the second Sunday in May. It is a time of celebrating the joys of motherhood and of appreciating all those special mothers and mother figures out there.

Lots of people choose to send their mother flowers or take them out for a celebratory meal, but what says “I love you” like a specially chosen patriotic gift? We have picked out some delightful gifts you could get your mom this year, and what’s better is that they are all 100% made in America. Continue reading

Patriotic Decorations for Memorial Day

Memorial Day is just around the bend, bringing with it a time to reflect on those who died in active military service defending our country. For nearly 150 years, we have gathered in the late spring to honor the sacrifice of those who have given their lives to the military services and the defense of our country.

Though the first commemorative events weren’t held in the United States until the 10th century, the practice of honoring those who have fallen dates back thousands of years. It dates all the way back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who held annual days of remembrance for loved ones each year, including their soldiers. Continue reading

Flag Pole Guide

American flag outdoors flagpole

The United States flag holds an important place in American history. The U.S. flag has a history as rich, and almost as long, as the United States itself! It is unknown who designed the first stars and stripes or who made it, although Betsy Ross is recognized as sewing the first flag and it is thoughts that Congressman Francis Hopkinson designed it.

The first Flag Act was passed by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. It stated, “Resolved that the flag of the United States be made of 13 stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” The flag as we know it (apart from a few stars) was prescribed by an Executive Order of June 24, 1912, which standardized the order of the stars and the proportions of the flag. Continue reading

American Flag Selection Guide

The American flag selection guideFinding the best flag for your intended display is no easy task. Depending on your flag’s function, your location and where you want your flag displayed, available options can vary drastically.

When choosing a flag, it’s important to consider its purpose, as that will help you determine the size and the material of your potential investment. If you’re considering setting up a display for an indoor setting, like in your home or a public lounge, you’ll have a large variety of materials and flagpole compositions to choose from. Continue reading

Flying the American Flag – Most Patriotic Houses in the U.S.A.

Throughout the United States, several historic homes have become symbols of America’s rich heritage and the patriots that helped shape the country. These landmarks provided a backdrop to the American Revolution, housing the fathers and mothers of America as they struggled to gain independence and freedom.

As these homes became synonymous with American patriotism, many tourists have made a pilgrimage to visit these illustrious estates. Today, these homes are kept in pristine condition, oftentimes decorated with an American flag in honor of their legacies. Continue reading

American Flag Décor Ideas for Patriots Day

Patriots Day is considered one of the most important celebrations in Massachusetts and Maine, due to the rich history associated with the day. As a result, most residents of these states use the day off to truly celebrate, hosting and attending parties and festivities with fellow revelers. Here are some suggestions for how to utilize American flag décor for all your Patriots Day celebrations, whether you are hosting or attending as a guest. Continue reading

Inauguration Party Décor Ideas

Front of the United States White HouseIt comes around every four years: the presidential inauguration. If you’re just an average citizen who doesn’t have an inaugural ball ticket in hand, you can still enjoy the evening’s festivities with your own inauguration party. By celebrating at home with the historical inauguration playing in the background, your family and friends can have a fun and history-filled evening. Continue reading

30 Great American Flag Crafts

crayons-and-american-flag-drawing

The American flag is a very popular subject for crafting. There is, of course, some controversy regarding whether a particular medium is suitable for creating one, or even whether using an American flag is appropriate in the first place. The Flag Code states that the flag should not be used in a disrespectful or inappropriate manner, which is implied insofar as disposable or edible items featuring the flag. It should not be desecrated (in this case, written on or cut up), nor worn as clothing, used as bedding, or as a receptacle. Continue reading

Top Care Packages and Gifts for Military Servicemen

Is your husband (brother, father, son, uncle, cousin, or friend) deployed with the military? Chances are he is missing you just as much as you are missing him. You can send him a care package and boost his morale. It will also help you feel better about dealing with the time apart. Maybe you are unsure of what to send, or how to send it. Check out these top gifts for military service men!

Since you cannot mail yourself to your loved one, take a look at this list of goodies every man in the service would love and appreciate receiving.

One of the primary gifts you can give to your loved one overseas is an American flag. You can have it personalized with a flag case, or send a standard flag. It represents more than you think. It symbolizes freedom. Your soldier will feel honored to receive one, and it will give him the courage to continue fighting for our nation’s beliefs. He will fly it proudly in his room or designated area. It is a daily reminder that his sacrifice means something special; his fighting is not in vain. The American flag reflects bravery, independence, liberty, and justice. It is the perfect gift to give to your military servicemen.

Food and Drink

Powdered drink mix—there is an assortment of drink powders that can be mixed with water. Depending on the weather, you can send hot or cold beverages. Cocoa, coffee, tea bags, and creamers are ideal for the colder times whereas lemonade and iced tea are perfect for the summer months.

Snacks — this is a broad category, but a few tips will make the mailing process easier. Send hard containers because bags may explode under high pressure. If you want to send multiple treats, consider putting them in smaller Ziploc bags, so he can carry a small package with him. Salty snacks like nuts, chips, pretzels, and flavored popcorn will encourage your soldier to drink more water. Snack cakes, cheese crackers, and cookies are very popular snacks. Jelly beans, beef jerky, and sunflower seeds are also delicious.

Protein treats are also in high demand like energy bars, tuna fish, and summer sausage. If you send any meat, make sure it says USDA beef on the package.

You should avoid chocolate, especially if your loved one is in a warm climate for fear of it melting. Gum should be sealed in a Ziploc bag to keep it from getting gooey. This also goes for any other soft candy. Make sure you mail extras so that he can share with his friends.

Meal Enhancers — Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) are not always the ideal dinner choice. You can send meal enhancers like hot sauce, mustard, relish, ketchup, and other condiments, which will make the food taste better. Seasoned salt, ramen noodles, and other foods that can be easily mixed with MREs are perfect.

Personal Items

The best way to send personal items is as travel-sized containers. You want to mail small containers; not aerosol cans. Even if it is brand new, be sure to cover the item with plastic wrap (you can open it, wrap it, and recap it). This will help prevent any spillage.

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss
  • Shaving lotion and disposable razors
  • Cotton swabs, packaged tissues, and baby wipes
  • Shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, and body wash
  • Eye drops, lip balm, lotion, and medicated foot powder
  • Aspirin, Vicks VapoRub, and topical cream pain relievers like IcyHot
  • Goggle-styled sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Socks and underwear that are 100% cotton (long
Fun and Games

Guys usually want something to do while deployed (outside of the typical drills and combat). During their downtime, they will need to pass the time. You can send an assortment of things that pertain to entertainment. If your soldier enjoyed playing a particular game at home, he would love to play it while overseas, too.

  • Reading material — paperback books, current magazines, and comic books are all great reading material.
  • Word games and puzzles — jigsaw puzzles, word searches, and crossword puzzles are a perfect way to pass the time.
  • Sporting gear — you can send small things like foam footballs, hacky-sacs, Frisbees, yo-yos, and other fun sports games.
  • Other games — dice, cards, and plastic model kits are another wonderful way to pass the time.
  • Electronics — portable equipment works best when it comes to DVD players and CD players. Do not forget the music and movies! Handheld electronic games, Amazon Kindles, iPads, iPods, and laptops are also fun.
  • Batteries — the most popular sizes are AA and D, but make sure you remove the batteries, so the equipment does not turn on during shipment. Anytime mail carriers hear a buzzing, vibrating, booming noise, or ticking; they will go into bomb mode.
  • Writing material — pens, pencils, paper, envelopes, and stamps are always in high demand.
  • Disposable and digital cameras
  • Phone cards — you can get a good deal on oversea minutes!
Reminders of Home

Every soldier misses his family. Sending a handwritten letter is one of the best gifts of all! Even if you are talking about your daily routine or regular at-home activities, your loved one will cherish it. Photographs, drawings, children’s artwork and schoolwork, a scrapbook with mementos, and a homemade videotape are all lovely gifts.

What Not to Send

Depending where your loved one is stationed, you will have to be careful of what you send. For example, it is not wise to send anything offensive to the Middle Eastern or Persian Gulf areas. The country will monitor what is being brought into their country, so you do not want to give your soldier any extra grief. The United States Postal Service also lists the military restrictions on its website. Things that offend the Islamic faith or usually off limits including the following:

  • Pork and pork by-products
  • Obscene material like semi-nude or nude persons, pornographic images, or sexual items
  • Alcohol
  • Unauthorized political material
  • Bibles in bulk — of course, it is okay to send a Bible to your loved one, but do not mail a stack of Bibles that you want to be passed out. Anything that is contrary to the Islamic faith should be kept at bay.
Packing Tips

It can take up to two weeks for your care package to reach the designated country. However, more time is likely to pass before your soldier gets his hands on it. When sending food, drinks, and other goodies, keep this in mind because you do not want anything to spoil or get ruined by climate extremes.

  • Double check size and weight restrictions — rule of thumb say packages cannot be bigger than 108 inches in total circumference. This can be calculated by measuring the total width around the package plus its total length. In general, it should be the size of a shoebox. Do not mail a package with an unauthorized label. For example, if you use wine or liquor box, it will be deemed nonmailable immediately. Priority mail boxes can be picked up at your local post office for free.
  • Include a card with the contents — write the soldier’s name and your name on the card along with a list of the specific materials. That way, if for any reason the package gets opened or tossed around, the mail carriers will know what to repack.
  • Number your packages — because you can only send small boxes, you may want to send more than one at a time. It will help if you number your boxes and letters, just in case it takes a while for one to reach your loved one. He can be on the lookout for the missing number.
  • Always use Ziploc bags — this goes for anything that may spill or leak!
  • Double and triple wrap fragile items — feel free to use reusable packing material like tissues, local newspapers, popcorn-filled baggies, beanbag-style stuffed toys, and other materials that will cushion your products. Plus, your loved one can also use each of the wrapping materials for other purposes.
  • Write out the complete address — the package should clearly list the service member’s name, unit name (including the ship, squadron, etc.), APO/FPO address, and the nine-digit ZIP code.
  • Mail packages early — this is true all year-round, but especially during the holiday season. Millions of pounds of mail will be shipped in the month of December alone.
Other Rules and Regulations

Sending mail across the state or the country is subject to rules and regulations, so mailing a care package overseas are no different. In fact, it must adhere to that many more standards. In order to make sure your loved one receives your gifts on time, you need to ensure you follow all of these rules and regulations.

You do not want to write the name of the foreign country on the package because it will be tossed into the traditional international mail system rather than the military roundup. This will delay your package significantly, and will also cost more money. Instead of going through exchange offices and post offices, military mail is sorted by the United States Postal Service and then sent to the designated military hubs. Military postal service members then handle the mail.

As mentioned before, it is crucial that you list the APO/FPO address on the package along with the military ZIP code. If you are unsure of the correct code, you can review the website of Operation Home Front.

Although following all the rules, regulations, and packing tips can be overwhelming, it is wise to do so. The first few care packages might be difficult to mail, but you will get used to it, and your soldier will love you for it.

Gifts after a Safe Return Home

Once your military servicemen return home, you can continue to give them unique gifts. Personalized items are the most heartfelt. Your father, husband, brother, uncle, cousin, or friend will cherish your thoughtful gifts. If you need a few ideas on what to give him for Christmas, birthdays, other special occasions, or just because, you should consider these items:

  • Flags and flag cases
  • Garden flags, garden stones, and yard stakes
  • Ornaments
  • Pendants
  • Plaques
  • Picture frames
  • Key rings
  • Paperweights
  • Blankets and Afghans
  • Banners

You can make them personalized by having their name and rank engraved, a picture added, or any other special touch you deem worthy. It is best to save these types of gifts for a welcoming home party. It will give them something to look forward to once they get home (although seeing you again will be the best and most priceless gift ever).

Observing National Flag Day

american-flag-825730_1280While the Fourth of July and Memorial Day Weekend may receive almost all of the patriotic glory, so to speak, one particular holiday remains consistently overlooked yet universally beloved: Flag Day.

Celebrated annually on June 14th, and officially established as a national day of recognition by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, the day commemorates the official adoption of the American flag on June 14, 1777, by a resolution passed by the Second Continental Congress. (The U.S. Army celebrates the Army’s birthday on this day as well.)

Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Scouts, 4-H groups, and numerous other patriotic communities around the country make use of the day to educate interested individuals on the history of our flag and the traditions surrounding it.

A Brief History of National Flag Day: Origins

One of the key players in the founding of National Flag Day was Bernard J. Cigrand, a child of Luxembourgian immigrants. Inspired by his father’s love for the United States and the sacrifices he made to establish a home here for his wife and children, Cigrand nurtured a love for the American flag from his earliest years that would carry through the rest of his life.

In 1885, as a mere nineteen-year-old teacher at Stony Hill School, he assigned essays to his students on the importance of the American flag, its history, and its significance. That same year, Cigrand enrolled in dental school and, despite working hard enough to graduate at the top of his class, he spent much of his precious free time dedicated to promoting official recognition of the flag by the government.

Almost immediately upon graduating, Cigrand spoke to the Chicago organization The Sons of America, citing the many benefits that would stem from establishing a national holiday celebrating the flag. He was thus soon appointed the editor-in-chief of their new magazine, The American Standard, and would go on to write hundreds of articles in countless publications advocating a national flag day.

Flag Day Kicks Off

On the third Saturday of June in 1894, the first Flag Day celebration hosted by public schools was held in Lincoln, Humboldt, Douglas, Garfield, and Washington Parks, with over 300,000 children in attendance. The next several decades would see 36 governors, hundreds of mayors of both big cities and small towns, and no less than five presidents send delegates and official statements to these events sanctioning the celebration and commemoration of an official Flag Day.

On June 14, 1916, Wilson finally declared the day a national holiday. At 50 years old, this was the crowning achievement of Cigrand’s life and the fruition of years of a labor of love, igniting a fire for this simple patriotic cause in the hearts of millions of Americans. The Chicago Tribune would later write that Cigrand “almost singlehandedly”  brought the holiday into the national consciousness.

Thank You, Pennsylvania!

That is not to say, however, that dozens of other individuals were not equally as instrumental in the establishment of a national Flag Day. George Bolch, the principal of one of the first free kindergartens in the United States, celebrated Flag Day at his school in 1889.

Intriguingly enough, many of these patriots hailed from Pennsylvania. In 1893, the Colonial Dames of Pennsylvania President Elizabeth Duane Gillespie, a descendant of Ben Franklin with a vested interested in her country’s history, fought to pass legislation requiring the display of the American flag on all public buildings in the city of Philadelphia. As a result, many flag enthusiasts still credit Philadelphia as the first home of Flag Day.

In 1888, William T. Kerr, a Pittsburgh native and future inhabitant of Yeadon, Pennsylvania, founded the American Flag Day Association of Western Pennsylvania. He would then go on to attend President Truman’s 1949 signing of the Act of Congress that would officiate the observance of National Flag Day. Furthermore, the state of Pennsylvania was the first state (in 1937) to officiate Flag Day as a holiday.

Celebrating Flag Day Today

National Flag Day is, of course, celebrated and recognized all over the country, in schools, on television, and on the radio. The National Flag Day Foundation hosts a unique program that begins with the singing of the National Anthem, a lovely ceremonial raising of the flag, and a reciting of the Pledge of the Allegiance with all present.

At this event, and many others around the country, there are musical salutes and air flyovers from the Armed Forces and other branches of the military. It is quite the spectacle! The streets are usually closed for a parade that features hundreds of military and marching units; local high school bands, color guards, and other groups and members of the local performing arts community; Boy and Girl Scouts, 4-H clubs, and floats.

During the week of Flag Day, the sitting president will make an official statement asking Americans to fly their flags publicly; all government buildings must do so as well. Many organizations, such as the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House in Baltimore and the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia, all host their own events and parades as well.

Join AmericanFlags.com as we prepare to celebrate Flag Day this June with our special American-made flags! Click here to purchase an American flag on sale now!