Flag Day: Honor the Star-Spangled Banner and observe National Flag Week

“Resolved, that the flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
John Adams, June 14, 1777

Close-up of American flag

Photo by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, courtesy of Flickr

SUNDAY, JUNE 14: Fly Old Glory high and host a patriotic summer gathering—it’s Flag Day, the United States’ annual commemoration of the adoption of the national flag.

Did you know? About 150 million American flags are sold each year, according to a trade group representing flag manufacturers. Some are made by American workers; some are imported from countries around the world. If you care about the origin of the flag you buy, check the labels carefully.

The tradition of honoring the June 14, 1777, adoption of our flag by the Second Continental Congress wasn’t widely celebrated in America until 1916, when President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation. In 1949, Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress. Though Flag Day isn’t a federal holiday, the President of the United States proclaims its observance annually and designates the week of June 14 as “National Flag Week.”

Did you know? The date of June 14 is also the birthday of the United States Army.

References vary regarding who originated the modern observance of Flag Day, but Wisconsin grade school teacher Bernard J. Cigrand is universally recognized for his tireless efforts. In 1885, 19-year-old Cigrand held an observance of Flag Day at Stony Hill School, displaying a flag and asking students to write about its significance. From the late 1880s, Cigrand spoke nationally for an American flag day. (Wikipedia has details.)

The first public proposal for a day honoring the United States flag was part of an article composed by Cigrand, entitled, “The Fourteenth of June.” Further, Cigrand became editor-in-chief of American Standard, the magazine of a group in Chicago that promoted due respect of American emblems. Cigrand became president of the American Flag Day Association. When Cigrand was 50 years old, President Wilson issued a proclamation for a nationwide observance of Flag Day; in 1949, President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating the day.

Through the centuries, there have since been several redesigns of the patriotic banner. (Learn more from AmericasLibrary.gov.) The flag flown today was last changed in 1960, with the addition of Hawaii to the United States.

THREE CHEERS FOR RED, WHITE & BLUE

Why wait until the Fourth of July for some tri-colored fun?

  • Kids can get artistic with red, white and blue-themed crafts in honor of their favorite Disney characters, at Disney.com.

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.