Celebrated every June 14th in the USA, millions of Americans observe Flag Day by waving Old Glory outside their homes and businesses. Veteran’s groups and sometimes whole communities also arrange civic functions and special ceremonies in honor of Flag Day.
As the legend goes, it was George Washington and two other members of the Continental Congress who asked Betsy Ross to sew the first American flag sometime in the late spring of 1776. The young widow was only in her early 20’s when she completed the first flag with thirteen stars arranged in a circle.
A year later, the Continental Congress officially adopted the design for the national flag, and henceforward the Stars and Stripes symbolized the U.S. around the world.
The first Flag Day was celebrated in 1877 – the flag’s centennial. In 1916, a grass roots movement resulted in President Woodrow Wilson issuing a proclamation that called for a nationwide observance of Flag Day on June 14. Although still not an official holiday, Flag Day was made a permanent observance in America in 1949 by Congress who resolved “That the 14th day of June of each year is hereby designated as Flag Day.”
Why red, white and blue? To the original members of the Continental Congress, red stood for hardiness and courage, white for purity and innocence, and blue for vigilance and justice.
Why thirteen stars and stripes? They represented the thirteen American colonies which rallied around the new flag in their fight against the British for self-governance.
The thirteen colonies included Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia.
To this day, thirteen stripes still commemorate the original colonies. Instead of thirteen stars, today the number of stars on the US flag has grown to 50, representing every state in the Union.
How to celebrate Flag Day
Wave Old Glory from the front porch, apartment balcony or window, or attend Flag Day parades or festivities sponsored by local organizations.
Hold an open house or a backyard barbecue. Decorate the backyard in red, white, and blue. A Flag Day menu might include lots of American favorites like hamburgers, hot dogs and, for dessert, how about an American flag cake?
More information about Flag Day around the Web:
Below, find out more about the origins of the Star Spangled Banner and what it means to celebrate Flag Day at top sites on the subject offering American flag history, trivia, activities, lesson plans and fun facts…
USFlag.org – An extensive clearinghouse of information and history on the American flag, an illustrated flag folding tutorial, graphics of all 50 state flags, origins of the Pledge of Allegiance, patriotic songs and lyrics, educational resources, related links.
The Star Spangled Banner – Multimedia extravaganza from the American History Museum about the flag that inspired the U.S. national anthem and the people and events that surrounded it.
A Guide to the American Flag – Galleries of pictures illustrating the Betsy Ross flag, the Star Spangled Banner, the Civil War flag, and other American flags through the decades as well as state flags and those of U.S. territories & possessions.
Flag Day in America – Click around for related stories, fun facts and information, plus Flag Day crafts ideas, related trivia, links to Flag Day screensavers, desktop wallpaper, e-cards and more.