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

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly attributed information to Laura Condeluci of the office of the Architect of the Capitol. The reporter did not speak with Condeluci. She did not say that flag sales rose in the wake of 9/11. Additionally information attributed to her incorrectly characterized the office's role in the distribution of flags that have flown over the U.S. Capitol. The Architect of the Capitol processes requests for flags from members of Congress for their constituents. The story below has been revised to reflect the correct information. Clients who used this story are asked to run the correction that can be found here.

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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 it” 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.

A website for that office said it “fulfills on average more than 100,000 flag requests” every year from members of Congress, with the number steadily rising.

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.

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.”