A lump rises in our throat as our flag marches by in a parade.  We salute its glory.  We sing its praises.  We pledge our allegiance to it.  We even wear it on our clothes.  And many brave men and women willingly march into harm’s way to keep it waving proudly and freely, for, after all, it represents all that we hold dear.  We love our flag, and yet how many of us know its history?  Why does it have stripes and stars?  And are we familiar with flag etiquette?

The Suburban Woman’s Club September meeting opened its 2019-2020 fund raising year with a presentation by Steven Wheatley, a self-described flag enthusiast and a member of the North American Vexillological Association, a group dedicated to the study and appreciation of flags. 

Wheatley’s talk included a review of flag evolution and how flags became increasingly important in the Middle Ages to inspire action, demonstrate a country’s identity, and express ideas.  He gave a brief history of our own flag whose design changed as our country grew and prospered.   For example, after the Civil War, President Lincoln was pressured to change the number of stars on the flag to represent only those states who stayed and fought for the Union.  Instead, he chose to keep the flag as it was with the then full complement of states in the hope of uniting the nation and healing the wounds of that terrible conflict.

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Wheatley pointed out that our flag, one of the most beautiful and easily recognizable, has been used and continues to be used in demonstrations across the world by people demanding liberty and freedom from oppression.  Our flag is not just stars and stripes but is an icon for basic rights for all humanity.

Such an icon deserves respect and Wheatley reminded Club members that a flag should be retired if the colors begin to fade or if it is in any way torn or damaged.  It should be taken down and brought to shelter in rain or snow.  He also pointed out that anyone who wants to keep the flag flying at all hours, must have a light shining on it during the darkness of the night. 

This wonderful presentation was part of the first official meeting presided over by newly elected President Jane Rundella.  During the business meeting, Rundella, Vice President Alberta Esposito and committee chairs reviewed the three main fundraisers the Club hosts each year.

On October 12th at the American Legion, co-chairs Lisa Cotone-Smith and Joyce Dieterle will organize the G&G Boutique, a higher-end flea market offering classy, gently used jewelry, pocketbooks, scarves and other accessories. In December, chair Cotone-Smith will organize the Theater Party at the Edison Valley Playhouse, usually a sold-out event, and in April of next year the very popular Luncheon/Fashion Show will be held at the Senior Center.  Proceeds from these events will go to the Club’s scholarship fund as well as local charities.

Joanne Stogoski, chair of Public Affairs, announced that the Club will support Operation Yellow Ribbon, a group which organizes and collects personal toiletries and goodies to be sent to our troops overseas in the form of Christmas stockings.

In addition, Legislation Chair Kathy Wozniak reminded members that this year marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.  She has written to the leaders of the US Senate and the Congress in support of similar Senate and House bills which will require the U.S. Treasury to mint and issue quarter coins commemorating the 19th Amendment and honoring the accomplishments and contributions of a prominent woman from each of the states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

Motivated to join?  Any woman of South Plainfield or the surrounding area is very welcome to become a member!  Membership dues are $35 per year. Meetings are the first Thursday of the month at 1:00 p.m.  To learn more, please contact Membership Chair Jean Tietjen at 908-668-0125 or suburbanwomansclubsp@gmail.com.  Like them on Facebook!


The Suburban Woman’s Club of South Plainfield is a member of the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs of GFWC.  In addition to fundraising to award scholarships and support local charities, the Club offers its members programs on a wide variety of topics designed to instruct and entertain at each monthly meeting.