Celebrating Flag Day

Americana, This Week in History, Traditions
on April 27, 2012

Many Americans display their patriotism — and their U.S. flag — year-round while others reserve display for special occasions. If you’re feeling patriotic, Flag Day, celebrated annually on June 14, is an excellent opportunity to bring out Old Glory and remind your friends and neighbors that you’re proud to be an American.

Flag history. Creating a flag to symbolize the independent United States was an important challenge for the young nation. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a resolution to adopt the current flag design was enacted June 14, 1777. The resolution stated, “That the flag of the United States shall be of thirteen stripes of alternate red and white, with a union of thirteen stars of white in a blue field, representing the new constellation.” Numerous variations of this flag have been used to represent America in the years since Betsy Ross created the first flag.

Flag milestones. The new flag was first carried into war in September 1777 during the Revolutionary War Battle of Brandywine, near Chads Ford, Pennsylvania. In 1778, the first foreign naval vessels honored the United States by saluting the flag. In early 1778, Americans captured a British fort in the Bahamas and, for the very first time, raised the flag over foreign territory. It wasn’t until 1861 that the flag was honored with an official Flag Day celebration.

Flag Day origins. A small school in Hartford, Conn., claims to be the home of the first Flag Day celebration. They hosted special programs to reinforce Americanism and the honor of citizenship to new immigrants from other countries. Similar celebrations began popping up in many states around the country, until Pennsylvania became the first state to call June 14 Flag Day a legal holiday. Although Flag Day is observed nationwide, Pennsylvania is the only state to celebrate the day as an official legal holiday.

Annual Presidential Proclamation. The president of the United States issues a proclamation each year that marks June 14 as Flag Day, and the entire week is affirmed as Flag Week. The Presidential Proclamation also includes a message from the president requesting all Americans to proudly observe Flag Day and National Flag Week. However Flag Day is celebrated, the commemoration of our flag should include the hanging of the American flag and the remembrance of our country’s heritage with public gatherings and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Learn how to properly display the U.S. flag