From the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame to the Cowboy Cafe to the Medora Grazing Association, the streets of Medora, ND were decorated for the town's annual Flag Day parade on June 14. Pickups and trailers started arriving in the former-cowtown-turned-tourist-destination by mid-afternoon, hauling the only type of entries allowed in the parade: horses and wagons.
As it has for the past 11 years, Medora hosted riders of all ages for the event commemorating the adoption of the flag of the United States. Once the stomping grounds of Theodore Roosevelt, who later became the 26th President of the United States, the event is coordinated by the Medora Chamber of Commerce. Patriotism is the theme for the event, headlined by the United States flag.
President Truman signed an Act of Congress in 1949 designating June 14 of each year as National Flag Day; the week of June 14 is designated as National Flag Week. U.S. citizens are urged to fly the American flag for the duration of that week.
Participants assembled on a grassy field on the east end of town prior to the 5 p.m. start. There were miniature, pony and draft teams, a variety of wagons and buggies, and mounted riders. Riders from the Medora Riding Stables, familiar to those who have seen the Medora Musical, carried flags representing all divisions of the United States armed forces and the POW/MIA flag. Rodeo queens and princesses from throughout North Dakota and Montana also took part in the festivities, as did trail riders, cattle ranchers and horse breeders. Riders were announced as they passed by the Rough Riders Hotel in the heart of downtown Medora.
A group from nearby Belfield, ND rode in support of the North Dakota National Guard 818th Engineer Company. Based out of Williston and Hazen, the 100-plus-member unit is deployed on a year-long mission to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Mitzy Mross, her daughter, and granddaughter all rode with the 818th Family Readiness Group, escorting a wagon festooned with bunting, flags and banners. Red, white and blue bows decorated the breast collars on their horses, while Mross posted a large American flag.
Back at the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, eleven flags snapped in the wind as the procession passed nearby. Standing sentinel near a Great Western Trail marker, the flags represent the states through which the Great Western passed on its way from the Rio Grande to Canada: Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, plus the flags of the United States and Canada. Seven million head of cattle and horses traveled the trail between 1874 and 1893. The first herd to reach North Dakota and the Little Missouri River left from Texas in 1884.