Flag Day: Wave Old Glory high in red, white and blue

Did you know? The American Flag has 13 stripes and 50 stars, representing the original 13 Colonies and current 50 states. There have been 27 official versions of the flag.

Close-up of American flag billowing

Photo courtesy of Flickr

FRIDAY, JUNE 14: Whip up some red, white and blue pancakes for breakfast, sing the “Star-Spangled Banner” and raise Old Glory high: it’s Flag Day! As issued by proclamation each year, President Barack Obama declared this year’s official Flag Day observance for June 14 (with an entire Flag Week now extending from June 9 through June 15). Schools across America will teach the history of Stars and Stripes; federal buildings will proudly fly the flag; and parades and fireworks will commence from sea to shining sea.

Flag Day commemorates the day the flag of the United States was adopted, via resolution of the Second Continental Congress in 1777. Legend has it that George Washington commissioned Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross to create a flag for (what he hoped would be) a new nation; the Betsy Ross House remains the official site of the Philadelphia celebration of Flag Day.

STARS & STRIPES HISTORY: A 19-YEAR-OLD FOUNDER

Flag Day originator Bernard J Cigrand.

Flag Day originator Bernard J Cigrand.

Several commemorations took place in early American history, but it was 19-year-old grade school teacher Bernard J. Cigrand who worked tirelessly to make Flag Day an annual American reality. In 1885, Cigrand held the first formal observance of Flag Day in his classroom in Waubeka, Wisconsin, displaying a miniature version of Old Glory and asking students to write an essay on its meaning. (Wikipedia has details.) One year later, Cigrand proposed an annual observance in an article for the Chicago Argus newspaper. From that time, raising awareness of Flag Day all but became a full-time job for Cigrand: the former teacher gave thousands of speeches across the nation, was appointed editor-in-chief of American Standard magazine (a publication that promoted reverence for American emblems), became president of the American Flag Day Association and head of the National Flag Day Society.

Still, it wasn’t until 1916—when Cigrand was 50 years old—that President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation officially establishing June 14 as Flag Day. National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress in 1949. The largest and most elaborate Flag Day parades take place in New York each year, although Pennsylvania is the only state to have deemed Flag Day a state holiday.

PATRIOTIC SPIRIT ONLINE

What’s Your Flag IQ? Test your IQ, and find lesson plans at Disney’s Kaboose.

Red, White and Blue on Your Table: Recipe Girl offers up 100 red, white and blue recipes, while Taste of Home gathers scrumptious inspirations like American Flag Berry Pie and Buttercream Blast Layer Cake.

Red, White and Blue in Your Home: Put together all-American crafts with help from this family-centered site.

Flag Etiquette: Do you know the proper way to fold the American Flag? How about the right way to dispose of the flag? Get all the info here.

Eager to learn more? Check out the official site of The National Flag Day Foundation.

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