History of Flag Day

Flag Day

american flagFlag Day is a United States holiday that falls on June 14 and commemorates the day the American flag was officially adopted as a part of the country in 1777. The United States Army also uses this date to celebrate the army’s birthday since it is also the date Congress adopted the Continental Army in 1775. The week surrounding Flag Day is known as “National Flag Week” when American citizens are encourage to fly the flag. Having the flag in government buildings is a requirement. It is common practice to say the Pledge of Allegiance at events and sing the national anthem.


proclamation, however, Flag Day is not a recognized federal holiday. Some states choose to celebrate it as a state holiday as Pennsylvania did in 1937. Fairfield, Washington does as well, having the oldest running Flag Day parade in the country. It started in 1910 and has been held every year since, celebrating its centennial run in 2010. There is also a parade held in Quincy, Massachusetts (running since 1952) and in Troy, New York, which is the largest Flag Day parade in the country. There are a few other notable parades and a good portion of them claim to be the biggest and the oldest, but there’s no substantial proof.

The American flag has undergone twenty-six modifications since 1777 as states have been added, the last change being made in 1959 by President Eisenhower when the fifty star flag was ordered. The first design was by Francis Hopkinson from New Jersey, and one of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence. He designed it while he was the Chairman of the Continental Navy Board’s Middle Department and it featured the thirteen stars in rows. When the flag was adopted in 1977, Hopkinson was the only one who had made a claim to it while he was alive and he had billed the Congress for the work. The payment was never made because he already received a salary from the Congress, but the documentation is solid, unlike the Betsy Ross story that is taught to most school children. While the Betsy Ross story is nice, there has been no evidence to suggest it is true. The main difference between the Ross-attributed design and Hopkinson’s is the arrangement of the stars. On the Ross flag, the stars are in a circle rather than rows.

The earliest recorded suggestion for Flag Day was made by George Morris in 1861 when he talks about a ceremony in Hartford, Connecticut that honored the adoption of the flag. The holiday didn’t catch on at the time, but was suggested by many other people later on, including Bernard J Cigrand (a teacher from Wisconsin) who proposed the observance to promote patriotism, and the entire town of Paterson in New Jersey.


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