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Jim Lee: Celebrate Founding Fathers' Day

Businesses in Maryland could do their part to encourage public participation in government if they changed their Father's Day advertisements to Founding Fathers' Day ads.

It just so happens that this year Father's Day falls in the middle of early voting for the Primary Election. Typically, voting in the primaries is less robust than in the General Election, and it falls even further in off-year election cycles when we aren't picking a president.

Businesses could do a service to their community by mentioning the Primary Election in their advertisements, perhaps even telling people about the times and dates for early voting. They could even tie their ads in to Flag Day, which falls a day before Father's Day.

As with many of our long-standing traditions, the origin of Flag Day celebrations is debated, with several locations all claiming to have been the first to hold such ceremonies. Most trace the beginnings to the late 1800s. Officially, Congress approved and President Harry Truman signed into law the national observance in 1949, but as far back as 1916 President Woodrow Wilson established a national observance of Flag Day through presidential proclamation.

Flag Day commemorates the June 14, 1777 resolution of the Continental Congress, which followed the recommendation of a special committee tasked with coming up with a design.

The adopted resolution proclaimed "That the flag of the United States shall be of thirteen stripes of alternate red and white, with a union of thirteen stars of white in a blue field, representing the new constellation."

We've added stars to the original as we have added states, but early on we stopped adding additional stripes with each new state as we did in the beginning.

According to worldflags101.com, "As new states joined the country a new star and stripe were added to the American flag. In 1818, the American flag's design was changed to the original one of 13 stripes. Any new states were now represented by a white star only and would be added to the American flag on July 4th of the year they joined."

Hawaii, which was added in 1960, brought the 27th version of the American flag, the website notes.

This year, with Flag Day, Father's Day and the Primary Election all falling in the same period, it provides a unique opportunity to promote community engagement in the governmental process.

Liberal Democrats across the state and ultra-conservative Republicans in Carroll probably won't think much of the idea. Primaries traditionally are the domain of each party's hard-core extremists, and they tend to get a little testy if they think more regular voters will show up at the polls and cast ballots for the more moderate candidates.

Republicans have suffered most in recent state and national election cycles from putting bizarre candidates on the ballot. That's why there's such a push among the traditional Republicans to help electable candidates make it through the primary. But Democrats through history have had their fair share of ultra-extremists who made it on the General Election ballot.

In truth, most voters Republican, Democrat or Independent fall into a wide 80 percent spectrum where they tend to vote conservative on some issues, liberal on others and haven't quite made up their mind on some of the others. Too often they are silenced, though, because it is the extreme 10 percent on the conservative side and extreme 10 percent on the liberal side who is determining who makes it through the primaries to the General Election. The only way to avoid that happening again this year is to have more folks show up for the June 24 Primary, or take part in the early voting between June 12 and June 19.

Carroll's early voting location is the Westminster Senior Activities Center, at 125 Stoner Ave. in Westminster. According to the Board of Elections website, the early voting center will be open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Thursday, June 12 through Thursday, June 19.

This year, let's combine Flag Day, Father's Day and Primary Day into Founding Fathers' Day, then commit to making a difference this election.

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