Why Do We Celebrate Flag Day on June 14th?
The American Revolution didn’t begin with all thirteen colonies fighting together against injustice brought by the British crown. It wasn’t until two months into the Revolution that the 2nd Continental Congress agreed all thirteen colonies would unite against Britain, and an official Army was established.
At the time, there still wasn’t an official United States, so each regiment fought under the unique flag of its own colony. The War was well into its 2nd year when the Stars and Stripes were formally adopted. The Flag Resolution of 1777 stated, “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.” It was signed on June 14th of the same year.
When is National Flag Day?
In 1916, Flag Day was proclaimed a national observance by then-President, Woodrow Wilson. A few decades later, an act of Congress properly designated June 14th as National Flag Day.
What is Flag Day and How is It Celebrated?
For many years before Flag Day was nationally observed, celebrations honoring Old Glory were held on state and local levels. These celebrations included parades, parties, art and essay contests, and historical exhibits. Today, Americans honor Flag Day in much the same way.
Flag Day Facts
Here are a few facts you may not know about National Flag Day and the American Flag itself.
- The idea to celebrate Flag Day began with Bernard Cigrand, a Wisconsin teacher, in 1885. He challenged his students to write an essay describing what the American flag meant to them.
- Flying an American flag upside down can be interpreted as a sign of protest or a distress signal.
- If flown at night, American flags must be illuminated by an alternate light source between sundown and sunrise.
- Burning American flags in protest was not illegal until the Vietnam War era. Respectfully burning damaged flags had always been acceptable.
- Today’s flag was designed by a 17-year old Ohio student in the 1950’s. When it became apparent that Alaska and Hawaii would become the 49th and 50th states, respectively, he disassembled his family’s 48-star flag, stitched it back together with two additional stars, and shared his creation with his history teacher. That teacher presented the flag to his congressman, who presented it to President Eisenhower. The design was officially adopted on July 4, 1960.
Visit the website of the National Flag Day Foundation to learn more about Flag Day and ways to celebrate. To learn more about the American Revolution, including the creation and first uses of the American flag, check out films on our list of the Top Ten Revolutionary War movies.