BOSTON >> Referring to the American flag as a "symbol of national unity," Secretary of State William Galvin joined elementary and middle school students Tuesday for a Flag Day ceremony that also marked the homecoming of a piece of Massachusetts history.
After leading them the Pledge of Allegiance, Galvin told students from Fall River, New Bedford, Weymouth and Northborough schools that it's important to remember what the flag stands for, especially as the country grapples with last weekend's terror attack in Orlando, Florida and prepares to vote for a new president.
"This national unity is particularly important in times of stress and this is a time of national stress in light of some of the incidents of terrorism that we have seen not only here in our country but throughout the world. It's also a very contentious election period, so it's important for us to keep in mind the unity and the common interest that brought us all together," said Galvin.
Flag Day was started by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, according to Galvin. While not considered a federal holiday, the day is observed each year on June 14.
The event also served as the debut of Revolutionary War-era flag that is believed to have once flown over Fort Independence on Castle Island in Boston Harbor.
The owner of the flag, James Mooney, of Cincinnati attended the event in Nurses Hall and said it is one of only a "handful" of 13-star American flags left in the world. Mooney said he acquired the 230-year-old flag from his relatives, and is grateful that it will be on display in its home city.
"We feel that it should be shared with people. People are not aware of these historical artifacts and they are very very significant. They are very rare," said Mooney, who added he wanted to bring the flag to Boston because "it is about as patriotic a place as you'll find in this country."
Mooney said the flag will be on display at the Commonwealth Museum in Boston until Sept. 8.