(WASHINGTON TIMES) Flag Day in 1916 in the nation’s capital was one of firsts and superlatives. Never before had Old Glory been raised to the top of the Washington Monument. But 11 sailors and an officer, manipulating a record length rope that had been spliced to reach the northeast corner of the windows at the top, achieved the feat. And never before, according to the Washington Herald, in an article entitled, “A City of a Million Flags,” have the citizenry “entered so thoroughly into the spirit of a celebration … .”
There were flags on homes, stores, cars, wagons, push carts, government buildings and coat lapels. Some were modest, costing may only a dime or 15 cents, No matter. “Everybody, male and female, young and old,” read the Herald, “bob-haired, gray-haired, and bald-headed,” had a flag.
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The occasion for the revelry was the Preparedness Parade, organized to ensure that, in the event the nation would be drawn into the World War raging in Europe, Washington D.C. would be ready, unlike the situation in the War of 1812 when British troops wreaked havoc on the city. The parade along Pennsylvania Avenue would eventually end up on the Washington Monument grounds where President Woodrow Wilson, who would lead the marchers for a short time, would deliver the major address.