Saturday, June 14, is Flag Day in the United States. The holiday commemorates the adoption of the stars and stripes as our nation’s flag by the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777.
The American Flag, as we know it, has 13 red and white stripes that represent the 13 original American colonies that declared independence from Great Britain. The original “Continental Colors,” the flag that preceded the stars and stripes, displayed a Union Jack in the Canton where the stars are now displayed. The congressmen decided that the “Continental Colors” looked too similar to the flag of the British East India Company. They thought that a new look was in order. They eventually declared that they wanted a blue field with white stars in the canton to represent the union of the independent colonies into a new constellation.
The original United States Flag had 13 stars. It is widely believed that Betsy Ross designed and created this flag in May, 1777. In actuality, Declaration of Independence signer Francis Hopkinson designed the first version of what became our nation’s flag. But Hopkinson’s flag used 6-pointed stars. While Ross was not the first to use 13 stripes and 13 stars for the “Red, White and Blue,” she is credited with making the first flag that used 5-ponted stars.
The 50 stars on our current flag represent the 50 states that make up the United States. Of course, the American Flag with 50 stars wasn’t adopted until July 4, 1960, after Hawaii became the 50th state on August 21, 1959.
Flag Day also coincides with the birthday of the U.S. Army. The Continental Army was adopted by Congress on June 14, 1775. This fledgling colonial force of ten companies of riflemen would evolve into the greatest army in the world.
The American Flag, commonly referred to as “Old Glory” has come to symbolize freedom and democracy and the spirit of America to the world. While Flag Day is not an official federal holiday, it is widely celebrated and observed throughout the country. Many communities hold parades, carnivals, fireworks displays and other events. Be sure to find out what your community is doing for Flag Day, 2014. Or hold your own observance. And be sure to wish the Army a happy birthday as well!
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Military Connection: Flag Day 2014: By Joe Silva