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Flagging interest: Supporters work to get people excited about Flag Day

WASHINGTON -- It's a holiday weekend, but you can be forgiven if the first holiday that comes to mind is Father's Day -- and not Flag Day.

"Flag Day isn't as popular," concedes Theresa Kempfer of the National Flag Day Foundation.

Officially celebrated on June 14 for more than 50 years, Flag Day is supposed to be a day when Americans "pay tribute to the banner that weaves us together and waves above us all," according to President Barack Obama's proclamation declaring this year's observance.

And groups across the country do what they can to mark the day, even if it does fall in the shadow of Father's Day.

In Arizona, Bullhead City Elks Lodge 2408 will talk about the history of the flag and display different version of it at an event that lodge spokesman Bill Burk said could draw up to 700 people. But Burk admits that most of those people are likely to be lodge members.

"I doubt a lot of people know about this though outside the lodge," Burk said.

American Legion Post No. 37 and Holbrook Elks Lodge No. 2450 will work together Saturday on a service that includes a "retelling of the flag's history," a flag-retirement ceremony and a potluck afterwards. The lodge has invited local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops to attend and hold flags during the ceremony.

Boy Scouts from Troop 365 in Glendale sell flags for people to put outside their homes on patriotic holidays, but admit that Flag Day is probably not as big an event as other holidays. The scouts do not really do as much as they would do "maybe for Memorial Day or Veterans Day," said Mary Lou BoBo, executive assistant for the Grand Canyon Council of the Boy Scouts.

In Washington, where members of Congress sell flags that have flown briefly over the Capitol to constituents, the office of the Architect of the Capitol continues to do a brisk business in its Capitol Flag Program.

"We sell over 100,000 flags a year," Laura R. Condeluci, a spokeswoman for the Architect of the Capitol, said in an email.

Those flags come in different sizes and materials and run between $9 and $109, with a couple extra bucks for those that have actually flown over the Capitol. Condeluci said that demand for flags spiked in the wake of 9/11 and has continued since.

Kempfer said the National Flag Day Foundation does its part to promote Flag Day with a museum dedicated to the development of the flag and areas where children can "try on past uniforms of the U.S Army."

National Flag Day Foundation President Jack Janik argues that Flag Day is "extremely popular" and that it generates tons of excitement -- especially around Waubeka, Wisconsin, home of the foundation an unofficial birthplace of the observance.

"Tons of people still buy flags - the military, Boy Scouts, families," Janik said. "People love our flag."

If people outside Wisconsin aren't that familiar with the observance, Janik said, "Maybe we should do a better job advertising our website."

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