June 14 is Flag Day! And who doesn’t love a good Flag Day celebration? For over two hundred years, American citizens have been celebrating our national flag in one way or another.
According to legend, in 1776, three members of a secret committee in the Continental Congress visited Betsy Ross in her small home and asked her to make a flag. In 1777, there was a need for an official flag, and on June 14, Congress voted to make the Betsy Ross flag the official banner of the newly created United States of America. The 1777 American flag looked a lot like the current one with thirteen alternating white and red stripes, a block of blue in the upper left corner, and white stars against the blue background. However, instead of 50 stars there were only 13 arranged in a circle, each representing a state of the union: Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, South Carolina, Virginia, Rhode Island, and North Carolina.
America’s flag was altered each time a new state was adopted, which means that it has been changed 37 times since 1777. The current 50-star flag was commissioned by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1959 and officially adopted in 1960.
The first Flag Day was observed in 1885 (on the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of the flag) when a school teacher named B. J. Cigrand celebrated with his students and called it “Flag Birthday.” He distributed little flags to each of the children, and they had a special program celebrating America’s flag.
Pennsylvania was the first state that adopted Flag Day as a statewide observance in 1893. New York followed suit not long after, making it a state observance in 1894. That same year, the American Flag Day Association was created to organize and oversee Flag Day celebrations.
The first Flag Day celebrations included marches, speeches, and sermons honoring the flag. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson officially established June 14 as a national holiday, but it wasn’t until 1949 that President Harry Truman signed an act of congress making the date the National Flag Day.
Flag Day Activities
Flag day is celebrated differently all over the country, but every single government building flies an American Flag throughout the week of June 14. Some people celebrate with parades, carnivals, speeches, and other events.
The National Flag Day Foundation holds the most renowned event on the second Sunday of June every year. Their celebration takes place at their Headquarters in Waubeka, Wisconsin, and consists of an official flag ceremony where they raise the flag, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and sing the Star-Spangled Banner. In addition to the flag ceremony, there is a parade and other celebratory events.
The Star Spangled Banner Flag House in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, also have nationally regarded Flag Day celebrations every year. Their events include things like parades, flag ceremonies, air shows, naturalization ceremonies, drum line performances, and fairs. The Betsy Ross House was the first organization to hold widely promoted events on Flag Day.
How do you celebrate Flag Day? Tell us all about it in the comments. Also read our post about American flag etiquette.