Adopting the Stars and Stripes

June 14, 1777

The Second Continental Congress (not to be confused with the FIRST Continental Congress) resolved that the Stars and Stripes would be the official flag of the United States of America on this day in 1777. Although we often associate the Betsy Ross creation with our first flag (you know the one with the circle pattern of stars?), it was actually the flag below that Congress voted in. The stars are in a 3-2-3-2-3 pattern (it sounds a bit like a soccer formation to me) and was designed by one of the Congressmen.
Fourth of July celebrations have a tendency to overshadow other patriotic holidays, but Flag Day is one that has drawn nationwide attention throughout the decades. While it is not an official federal holiday, people like George Morris (Connecticut), William Kerr (Pennsylvania), and Elizabeth Duane Gillespie (Pennsylvania) have certainly done their part to honor the adoption of Old Glory.

In the small town of Waubeka, Wisconsin, a schoolteacher named Bernard J. Cigrand rounded up the students of Stony Hill School and held the first formal observance of Flag Day in 1885. Cigrand’s spent a great deal of the remainder of his career promoting patriotism and Flag Day throughout the country. At a certain point, Cigrand commented that he had thus far given 2,188 speeches on the subject.

Cigrand has been noted as being the “Father of Flag Day” and the Chicago Tribune stated that he “almost single-handedly” established the holiday. Upon my recent relocation to Wisconsin, there were a few things that were made clear to me right away…here are just a few…1) the State nearly shuts down if the Packers are playing, 2) bratwurst is a food group of its own, 3) Harley Davidson’s are NOT your ordinary motorcycle, and 4) Bernard Cigrand and the Stony Hill School in Waubeka can be credited for the patriotic date celebrating our nation’s flag.

Wisconsin Beer Braised Brats

10 uncooked bratwurst links (2 ½ pounds total)
¼ cup butter
1 large onion, halved and cut into thin slices
2 12 – ounce bottle or cans dark beer
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
10 hoagie buns, bratwurst buns, or other crusty rolls, split and toasted
Easy Cranberry-Pickle Relish (see below)

Pierce bratwurst with fork. For a charcoal grill: Arrange medium-hot coals around a drip pan. Test for medium heat above pan. Place bratwurst on grill rack over drip pan. Cover; grill 20 to 30 minutes or until instant-read thermometer inserted into bratwurst registers 160 degree F, turning once halfway through grilling time. (For a gas grill: Preheat the grill. Reduce heat to medium. Adjust for indirect cooking. Grill as directed above.)

Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, heat butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook and stir about 5 minutes or until tender. Add beer, brown sugar, vinegar, caraway seeds, thyme, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Place bratwurst in beer mixture; keep warm until serving time.
To serve, place grilled bratwurst in a bun or roll. Using a slotted spoon, top with some cooked onion slices and Easy Cranberry-Pickle Relish. Makes 10 sandwiches.

(You can tote cooked brats and the beer cooking liquid to your tailgating site in an insulated container. Serve within 1 to 2 hours.)

Easy Cranberry-Pickle Relish

1 cup canned whole cranberry sauce
1/2 cup sweet pickle relish
In a small bowl, combine cranberry sauce and sweet pickle relish.

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