Summer is peppered with patriotic holidays that celebrate democracy and the freedoms it affords. Memorial Day, Flag Day and the biggie, the Fourth of July, all remind us of how our freedoms have been protected in the past and must be preserved in the future.
From singing the national anthem to flying flags, patriotic elements are a part of many meetings and conventions. Here are five tips for including them in your next event.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a local singer perform “The Star-Spangled Banner” or other patriotic songs at a convention opening or awards banquet? But how do you find a qualified performer? Look to the baseball park. In smaller cities, minor league baseball teams audition and choose local talent each year to perform the national anthem at some 70 home games. Teams like the Round Rock, Texas, Express or the Fayetteville, North Carolina, Woodpeckers invite individuals and groups to audition. Among the 150 auditioning this spring in Fayetteville, which just opened a new ballpark, were the Triton High School Showstoppers and Gospel Choir and singer Bethany Walters, who has sung the national anthem at college baseball games. For more ideas about local talent, contact convention services at a city’s convention bureau.
The All-America City Award (nationalcivicleague.org/america-city-award) began in 1949 to encourage civic interaction, a quality integral to democracy, in communities of all sizes. Since then, more than 500 communities have earned the honor, which is awarded to 10 cities each year. Many have received the award several times. Award winners are typically progressive, inventive and engaged communities, the kind that make great meeting destinations. Among the five-time All-America City recipients are Cleveland; Tupelo, Mississippi; Des Moines, Iowa; and Worchester, Massachusetts. Four-time winners include New Haven, Connecticut.; Toledo, Akron and Columbus, Ohio; Dubuque, Iowa; Grand Island, Nebraska; Peoria, Illinois; Rockville, Maryland; and Anchorage, Alaska. Award winners often see a bump in tourism. The program has also been credited with helping communities foster more partnerships. Cities where various entities work well together are always a plus for meeting planners.
Made in America
It can be challenging to find items that are made in America, but one product that is readily available from U.S. makers is the American flag. American Flags (americanflags.com) is one of the largest suppliers of American-made flags in the country. Through the website Made in America (madeinamerica.com), you can purchase patriotic lapel pins made in the U.S. for $14 each or an 8-by-12-foot American-made flag for $152.76. Made in America also sells American-made items that could be attendee or speaker gifts, like stainless steel straws for $6.95 or iPad and iPhone carrying cases.
War heroes, military leaders, astronauts and explorers inspire. That’s why many speakers bureaus devote sections of their websites to speakers who have military or patriotic ties. These speakers typically use their own careers and experiences to convey messages about leadership, courage and even security. Such speakers appeal to corporations, nonprofits and government agencies. Crown Speakers’ roster includes Vernice “Flygirl” Armour, the first African American woman combat pilot; Sam Gemar, an astronaut who flew three successful missions in space; and Eric Maddox, an intelligence officer whose interrogations helped lead to the capture of Saddam Hussein.
Premiere Speakers offers an impressive lineup that includes Col. Oliver North; author Michael Reagan, the son of President Ronald Reagan; and Taya Kyle, the New York Times best-selling author and widow of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle.
Flying the Flag
As a proud symbol, the American flag demands respect, and the rules governing its use should be at every planner’s fingertips. Most are common sense: Flags shouldn’t fly in inclement weather, for example, and at night, a flag should always be illuminated. But do you know how to hang a flag? A flag’s union, the blue square with stars, must face north or south if it is hung above a street. If a group of flags is displayed, the U.S. flag must be front and center, at the highest point. The U.S. flag flies above all flags on a single staff, unless it is flown during church services conducted at sea by a Navy chaplain. And worn out, tattered flags should be disposed of in a respectful way.