On June 14, 1909, Pullman-area residents, the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.), and the Sons of the American Revolution (S.A.R.) bring a patriotic air to the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific (A-Y-P) Exposition as they celebrate Flag Day at their Special Day at the exposition. The exposition took place on the University of Washington campus in Seattle between June 1 and October 16, 1909, and every day (except Sundays) was designated as a Special Day for one or more groups. Special Days drew people involved in the featured organizations and the resulting programs, lectures, ceremonies, parades, and athletic competitions gave local people a reason to visit again and again. On this Special Day, Washington State College (now Washington State University) cadets parade the "Largest Flag in the World," sewn by Pullman resident Pauline Mitchell (1886-1967). The D.A.R. unveils a statue cast in bronze of George Washington by Lorado Zadoc Taft (1860-1936) commissioned for the exposition and the university. And finally the huge flag is hoisted up a 186-foot flagpole that the S.A.R. had erected in the center of Dome Circle.
Pull for Pullman
The flag measured 110 feet long by 39 feet wide, barely fitting down the streets of Seattle as it led a procession of Pullman-area residents parading and carrying banners promoting their communities in the Palouse hills. Many of the participants wore badges reading "Pull for Pullman, Home of the Washington State College."
Later in the day, the parade continued at the A-Y-P grounds and included more people from the Palouse region, a delegation of professors from the state college, a military band, and a float. The cadets camped on the grounds of the fair for the next 10 days side-by-side with the University of Idaho cadets, leading to friendly rivalry between the two.
UW's George Washington Statue
At the unveiling of the George Washington statue sculpted by Lorado Zadoc Taft and cast in bronze, the D.A.R. led an elaborate program just inside the main gate of the A-Y-P. Professor Edmond S. Meany (1862-1935), who had worked with the D.A.R. on the statue project, gave a speech titled "Life of Washington." Eliza Ferry Leary (1851-1935) presented the statue on behalf of the D.A.R. J. W. Slayden presented it on behalf of the Washington State Legislature, which had helped with funding. George E. Dickson presented it on behalf of the Washington State Commission of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, which had also been involved.
Just two dignitaries accepted the statue, Acting Governor Marion E. Hay (1865-1933) for the state of Washington, and Thomas F. Kane (1863-1938), for the university. Four-year-old Eleanor Washington Caldwell, George Washington’s great grandniece, unveiled the statue. This was followed by a benediction by the Right Reverend F. W. Keator, of Olympia.
J. J. Jusserand, Ambassador from France, gave an impromptu speech about the long friendship of the United States and France. The crowd rose to its feet as the band played the "La Marseillesaise" in his honor.
After the exposition, Mrs. Bowden, a D.A.R. member, traveled to Europe and noticed the practice of laying flowers at the base of statues to commemorate historic days. She recommended that they do the same for the Washington statue and the D.A.R. has done so every year since on President’s Day.
Over the years participation by additional groups has augmented the ceremonies. The University of Washington Reserve Officers Training Corps, the University of Washington Band, local Boys Scouts and Camp Fire girls, and foreign consuls have all contributed to the festivities. In 1932, in conjunction with the bicentennial of Washington’s birth, the D.A.R. organized the planting of the International Grove of trees where Allen Library stands today. Thirty-two consuls planted trees native to their home countries in a gesture of goodwill and cooperation.
Some time later, when the University of Washington reconfigured the west campus gate, the George Washington statue moved one block north to its present location near the Henry Art Gallery.
The Sons of the American Revolution capped off the day’s activities with a flag ceremony in the evening at the pole they had donated to the exposition. "To the strain of patriotic music," the S.A.R. hoisted the flag on the 186-foot pole in the center of the Dome Circle. A girls’ chorus sang to the accompaniment of the Third Infantry band.
At the time of the American Revolution, the pole, cut in Eagle Gorge in King County (by a firm based in Buckley, Pierce County), was "just a sapling growing in an unknown wilderness." The Seattle Post-Intelligencer took special pride in pointing out that this pole stole the world’s record from the flagpole at the Lewis and Clark Exposition held in Portland in 1905. It was so tall that it required five flat railroad cars to transport it to the exposition grounds. Professor Edmond S. Meany accepted the flagpole on behalf of the university, saying, "I hope that it will long be treasured and be an inspiration to patriotism" ("Tall Flag Staff Given to University").