What is Flag Day?
Flag Day, celebrated on June 14th, is one of the lesser known American celebrations to occur during the summer alongside Memorial Day and Independence Day. Flag Day is an important celebration of the adoption of the United States Flag in 1777, by a resolution of the Second Continental Congress.
How Did Flag Day Begin?
On June 14th, 1777, the Second Continental Congress formally replaced the Grand Union Flag of Great Britain with the new American design of thirteen stars in a circle alongside thirteen red and white stripes. There’s no historical record of who exactly created the design for the flag, but it is commonly attributed to the seamstress Betsy Ross. Other possible creators include Rebecca Young and Francis Hopkinson.
In June of 1886, a dean at the University of Chicago, Illinois named Bernard Cigrand made the first public proposal for the adoption of a special day to annually celebrate the birth of the flag. He proposed the idea in an article for the Chicago Argus entitled “The Fourteenth of June”. Bernard would spend the next decade as an advocate for celebrating the symbols and emblems of American pride, and in June 1894 organized the first successful celebration of Flag Day with over 300,000 school children in Chicago. In June of 1889, George Balch, a kindergarten teacher in New York City hosted a series of small ceremonies for his classroom that celebrated the adoption of the flag.
Bernard became the first president of the American Flag Day Association and of the National Flag Day Society later on. Throughout his life he continued to be an educator and promoter of awareness surrounding the American Flag. After his passing in 1932, Bernard was eulogized as the Father of Flag Day. On June 14th, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson formally recognized the establishment of the holiday as a nationwide observance. However, Flag Day would not officially become a holiday until August of 1946, when it was formally established by Congress under Title 36 of the United States Code, Subtitle 1, Part A, Chapter 1.
How Is Flag Day Celebrated?
The week of June 14th is officially designated as flag week, and U.S. citizens are encouraged to fly the American flag for the duration of the week. The flag is meant to be displayed on government buildings, homes, and places of business. Because it is not recognized as a federal holiday, there is no mandated day off from work. Many schools and small towns celebrate Flag Day with ceremonial flag raising, recitation of the national anthem, and praise for the armed forces.
Interesting Facts About The Flag:
- Each color on the American flag stands for something different. The red symbolizes valor and hardiness, while the blue stands for vigilance, justice, and perseverance. The white is meant to represent innocence and purity.
- The flag is sometimes referred to as “Old Glory”. This term was first coined by William Driver in 1831, a sailor who became a ship-master at the age of 21. He stated: “It has ever been my staunch companion and protection. Savages and heathens, lowly and oppressed, hailed and welcomed it at the far end of the wide world. Then, why should it not be called Old Glory?”
- It’s other nickname, “The Stars and Stripes”, is a colloquial term that comes from the aforementioned stars and stripes that comprise the flag.
- The design of the flag has changed a total of 27 times since its creation.
There Are Specific Rules You Must Follow When Displaying The American Flag, Including:
- Display the flag from sunrise to sunset
- If displayed at night, it should be illuminated
- The flag should never touch the ground or floor
- The blue field should always be in the upper left hand corner
- The flag should be raised quickly and lowered slowly
There are several locations in the United States where the flag is required to be flown 24 hours by law.
- Fort McHenry, National Monument and Historic Shrine, Baltimore, Maryland
- Flag House Square, Baltimore, Maryland
- United States Marine Corps Memorial (Iwo Jima), Arlington, Virginia
- On the Green of the Town of Lexington, Massachusetts
- The White House, Washington, D.C.
- United States customs ports of entry
- Grounds of the National Memorial Arch in Valley Forge State Park, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania
More About Flag Day:
- There are six American flags on the moon, all planted by the Apollo crews: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17.
- Flag Day is not recognized as a federal holiday, but some states hold parades and festivals in honor of the flag anyway.
- Flag Day shares its day with the birthday of Army.
- The oldest continuous Flag Day parade in the United States is held in Fairfield, Washington, where it has been held every year since 1909.
- The biggest Flag Day parade is held in Troy, New York, where an estimated 50,000 people attend every year. Other big parades are hosted in Quincy, Massachusetts, and Three Oaks Michigan.
- In 1894, the first Flag Day was held outside of Chicago when the governor of New York decreed that the flag should be displayed on all public buildings on June 14.
- On May 30, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation establishing Flag Day on the anniversary of the Flag Resolution.
- On August 3, 1949, President Truman signed an Act of Congress that would designate June 14 of each year as National Flag Day.
- When the flag can no longer be repaired or used, it must be destroyed in a dignified manner, such as burning in private or public ceremony with dignity.
- Flags used for Veteran Burials must meet specific requirements. By law, each flag must be completely manufactured in the United States from raw domestic materials. Each flag needs to measure five by nine feet and six inches. It must also be constructed from domestic cotton with embroidered stars.
Looking Towards The Future:
At Landmark Senior Living, we care about those who served our country and those who continue to do so. That’s why we’re unveiling a new campaign to help senior veterans and their spouses unlock the benefits available to them through the Aid and Attendance Program offered by the VA. If you’re looking for assisted living benefits for Veterans, visit Landmark Senior Living in Fall River.