The History of Flag Day

Did you know that Flag Day is not considered a federal holiday? Seems odd considering it’s the day our country honors its national flag. It’s a holiday that doesn’t seem to get as celebrated as its fellow patriotically rooted cousin, Independence Day.

Flag Day is recognized on June 14th across the United States of America, commemorating the first day the American flag was raised. Although there is no actual evidence to support this claim, it is widely believed that Betsy Ross (a Philadelphia based seamstress) created the first flag at the request of George Washington in 1776. In fact, Betsy’s name didn’t even come up in association with the deed until 1876, forty years after her death. On June 14th, 1777, John Adams of the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution stating:
“Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation”.

A few short months later, on September 11, 1777, the very first American flag was carried into battle in the Battle of Brandywine. This is the first known instance in which the American Flag was raised in battle.

Fast forward 100 years later to the day, the first official national observance of Flag Day occurred on June 14, 1877 by a school teacher named George Balch. This led the New York State Board of Education to formally observe Flag Day. In the years that followed, several states began observing June 14th as a date in which you paid respect to the Stars & Stripes. Almost four decades later, President Woodrow Wilson issued a national proclamation that June 14th would be known as Flag Day, as it is the anniversary of the day the Second Continental Congress adopted the Stars & Stripes design of the flag to become the symbol of our great nation.

There have been 26 updates to the flag since the very first design in 1777. These modifications were created to showcase additional stars to symbolize the additional states that joined the union. The most recent update to the flag occurred in 1960 when Hawaii joined the United States. On July 4, 2007, the flag that most of us have come to know in our lifetime as “Old Glory” became the version of the flag that has been in use the longest, exceeding the reign of the 48 star flag. The 48 flag star was used from 1912-1959.

If you’re looking for ways to celebrate Flag Day and show respect for our great nation’s heritage, many cities host cookouts, picnics and parades. If your town or city does not, why not host one yourself! And of course, be sure to fly your American flag proudly on June 14th!

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