June 14 is the day the United States celebrates Flag Day. While it may not be as widely celebrated as other American holidays, it is one of the oldest. It was resolved by the Second Continental Congress in 1777, even before the conclusion of the American War of Independence, the Revolutionary War.

Grassroots

In 1885, BJ Cigrand, a Wisconsin schoolteacher, initiated a “Flag Birthday” for his students on June 14. His continual promotion of this “Flag Day” inspired New York kindergarten teacher George Balch in 1889 to have similar observances for his students, and the State Board of Education for the…


Why has D-Day captured the imagination of American consciousness for three-quarters of a century? On Twitter, the hashtag is #DDay77

Seventy-seven years ago, on June 6, 1944, the Allies launched an offensive on the Normandy coast of France to liberate continental Europe from the Nazi German occupation.

D-Day was the largest invasion by sea in all of history, literally turning the tide. It was the beginning of the end of the War. General Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces, sent the troops out that day:

“You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these…


June represents the halfway point of the year, being the sixth of the twelve months of both the Gregorian calendar — which we use currently in the West — and also the earlier Julian calendar, named for Julius Caesar, the namesake of July. Where do we get the name for June?

What’s In A Name?

Ovid, author of that bi-millennial best-selling magnum opus “Metamorphoses” — where he takes the stories of the Greek myths and gives them Roman names — suggests two possible etymologies.

  • The first and more likely origin is the Roman goddess Juno, wife of Jupiter, who was referred to as Hera

Memorial Day was not universally recognized as a shared American Holiday until after World War I. But that’s not how it started in the United States.

When did it begin?

Civil War and Memorial Day

Following the American Civil War or the “War Between the States,” as it was known in the South, various locations began decorating the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers and flags, as I’ve written previously. This began in the mid to late 1860s across the country, as almost every community had been touched by loss from the country-wide conflagration. …


This week we celebrate the 84th anniversary of the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge. On May 27, 1937, the bridge opened to traffic after taking over five years to build. I remember asking my father when I was young:

“Why isn’t the Golden Gate Bridge golden?”

He didn’t have an answer, other than his observation that it was expensive to paint.

Color of Golden Gate Bridge

What he didn’t know is that the steel for the bridge, which came from Bethlehem Steel foundries in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, originally came coated with a red led primer. Color studies by consulting architect Irving Morrow arrived…


The original Star Wars movie premiered on May 25, 1977.

In November of 1976, I picked up a new science fiction novel called “Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker” by George Lucas. I did not know at the time that it was ghost-written by Alan Dean Foster, a popular sci-fi writer.

The following May, the movie debuted in only 40 theaters around the country, with little of the advanced fanfare we are used to today. But word of mouth spread fast, and when I heard it was showing at the Coronet Theater in San Francisco, I went with…


The person who initially was most active in opposing the celebration of Mother’s Day is the very person who started this holiday in the US.

How did that happen?

Anna Jarvis’ mother died in 1905 and in her honor, Anna held a memorial in 1908 in Grafton, West Virginia. She continued to campaign for national recognition of this day for all mothers through the assistance of John Wanamaker and the efforts of Bethany Temple Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. The first state to recognize Mother’s Day was her own West Virginia in 1910.


Seventy-six years ago today, World War II ended in Europe with the acceptance by the Allies of unconditional surrender from Germany on V-E Day.

Or did it?

May 7, 1945 V-E Day


May 4th or May the Fourth is a geek holiday that has gained popularity in recent years due to a popular film franchise. But where did it begin?

History of May the Fourth

“May the Fourth” is taken from the benediction “May the Force be with you” made famous in the Star Wars film series. This pun intended holiday seems to have first been celebrated in the Toronto Underground Cinema in 2011. However, the use of this phrase predates this, going back to the day in 1979 when Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first woman prime minister was elected. The Conservative party, upon the occasion of her…

Bill Petro

Writer and technologist. Author of fascinating articles about history, tech trends, and pop culture. billpetro.com @billpetro

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