National Observance: Fly it high on Flag Day

Photo in public domainTHURSDAY, JUNE 14: Sing the “Star-Spangled Banner” and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, joining the millions of Americans who will observe Flag Day today. On this date in 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted the official flag of the United States. According to a popular version of the story: In June 1776, George Washington asked Betsy Ross to sew a flag for a new nation; the Betsy Ross house remains at the center of Philadelphia’s Flag Day celebrations.

Quick quiz: Do you know the values symbolized in the colors of the U.S. flag? The answer is at the end of this post! (And for Flag Day recipes, visit AllRecipes; for crafts and quizes, check out Kaboose.)

America’s birthday has been observed since the nation was founded, but this “runner up” to the Fourth of July wasn’t so quick to catch on. A number of individuals are credited with spreading the popularity of Flag Day, although most agree that a schoolteacher from Wisconsin was most responsible. (Wikipedia has details.) In 1885, Bernard Cigrand held an observance of Flag Day at Stony Hill School, and from that time, Cigrand would spend the rest of his life promoting patriotism and the necessity of a grander Flag Day. Several decades later, in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that established June 14 as Flag Day; 33 years later, National Flag Day was established by Congress.

Despite the many patriotic events held today—including several parades that have been running for nearly a century—Flag Day is still proclaimed by the President on an annual basis. (Learn more from the National Flag Day Foundation, which promotes this holiday.) The week of Flag Day is termed “National Flag Week,” and during these seven days, the President encourages citizens to fly the flag at home, at businesses and at government buildings.

Quiz Answer: Red symbolizes valor and bravery; white symbolizes purity and innocence; and blue symbolizes vigilance, perseverance and justice. (For more flag facts, visit

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