On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution adopting the flag of the United States. In 1916, the day was officially declared the 'Flag Day', following a proclamation issued by the then President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson. The history of Flag Day is undoubtedly one of the most interesting chapters of the American history. Sadly though, the day seems to have been long forgotten, and the fact that nowadays you hardly get to see hundreds of flags displayed in every street like before, echoes this very thought.
National Flag Day Facts
» Flag Day is celebrated to commemorate the adoption of national flag of the United States of America, nicknamed Old Glory or Stars and Stripes. The day, i.e., June 14, marks the anniversary of the official adoption of the American flag by resolution of the Second Continental Congress in 1777.
» The American flag, as we see it today, consists of thirteen horizontal red and white stripes, each representing the thirteen original colonies of the United States, and a blue rectangle with fifty white, five-pointed stars representing the 50 states of the Union.
» Its design has undergone 26 modifications since it was adopted in 1777. Back then, the red and white alternating stripes did exist, but the number of stars in the blue rectangle was thirteen, and not fifty, as we see today.
» Over the course, a new star was added to the existing lot with the inclusion of every new state to the Union. The number of stars increased to 15 in 1794, 20 by 1818 and the trend continued. The fiftieth star was added with the inclusion of the state of Hawaii to the Union in 1959.
» Along with the stars, even stripes were increased to 15 in 1794, but eventually the number was reduced to 13 in 1818. A law was passed stating that the number of stripes on the national flag would remain 13, and these 13 stripes would represent the 13 original colonies.
» Though there is no concrete evidence to support this claim, it is widely believed that the first flag was made by Betsy Ross in the late spring of 1776, at the behest of George Washington, and the same was eventually adopted by the Continental Congress after a year.
» While the flag was adopted by the Second Continental Congress in 1777, the concept of Flag Day came into existence several decades later. One of the earliest citation of Flag Day celebrations can be traced to 1861, wherein George Morris, hailing from Hartford city, Connecticut, prompted people of this city to celebrate it.
» The celebration became a tradition after Bernard J. Cigrand, often referred to as the 'Father of Flag Day', began promoting the same in late 1880s. Cigrand, a grade school teacher, began working for this cause by observing this day at the Stony Hill School, where he used to teach in 1885.
» A devout patriot, Cigrand spoke for the respect and honor of the national flag throughout his life. For the noble cause, he was first appointed the president of the American Flag Day Association, and eventually the president of the National Flag Day Society.
» In 1893, Elizabeth Duane Gillespie, the president of the Colonial Dames of Pennsylvania, made what was one of the first attempts to pass a resolution on hoisting of the American flag. The resolution put forth by Gillespie, made it mandatory for the public buildings in Philadelphia to fly the American flag on this day.
» More of such attempts followed across the country. Even the governor of New York came up with an official order stating that the American flag should be displayed on all public buildings in the city on this day.
» Eventually, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation establishing June 14 as Flag Day on May 30, 1916, and, the National Flag Day was established by a Congressional legislation during the presidential term of Harry Truman in August 1949.
Flag Day Celebrations
Though June 14 has never been a Federal holiday, there exist numerous accounts which speak about this day being celebrated with great pomp and gaiety in the past. Other than displaying the U.S. flag on the roof of the house, the day is also celebrated by organizing parades. In fact, the annual Flag Day parade held at Quincy, Massachusetts, first celebrated in 1952, is considered one of the longest running parades in the history of United States. On the other hand, the city of Troy in New York boasts of hosting the largest parade in the country, with several thousand individuals participating in it. Other than these large-scale celebrations, this day is also celebrated by several neighborhoods by organizing small gatherings.
Interestingly, June 14 also marks the birth of the American Continental Army (adopted on June 14, 1775), which is considered the parent body of the modern U.S. Army. This invariably means we have two good reasons to celebrate the day. Do we still need June 14 to be a Federal holiday to celebrate it? Not if we understand what national pride is all about.