Across the United States June 14th is celebrated as Flag Day to honor the nation’s flag and reflect on the flag as a symbol of the nation’s ideals. Although Flag Day is a nationwide observance, it is not a nationally recognized legal public holiday.
Some history: On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress replaced the British symbols of the Grand Union flag with a new design featuring 13 white stars in a circle on a field of blue and 13 red and white stripes – one for each state. Although it is not certain, this flag may have been made by the Philadelphia seamstress Betty Ross, who was an official flag maker for the Pennsylvania Navy. Over the years, the number of stars increased as the new states entered the Union, but the number of stripes stopped at 15 and was later returned to 13.
With calls for celebrating this day harkening back to 1886 and school teacher Bernard Cigrand, it was President Woodrow Wilson who issued a proclamation calling for a nationwide observance of the event on June 14, 1916. However, Flag Day did not become official until August 1949, when President Harry Truman signed the legislation and proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day. In 1966, Congress also requested that the President annually issue a proclamation designating the week in which June 14 occurs as National Flag Week. The President was futher requested annually to issue proclamation to call on government officials in the USA to display the flag of the United States on all government buildings on Flag Day; and to urge US residents to observe Flag Day as the anniversary of the adoption on June 14, 1777, by the Continental Congress of the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the United States.
Words about the flag:
“The flag of the United States has not been created by rhetorical sentences in declarations of independence and in bills of rights. It has been created by the experience of a great people, and nothing is written upon it that has not been written by their life. It is the embodiment, not of a sentiment, but of a history.” ~ Woodrow Wilson
Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!
- Francis Scott Key, The Star-Spangled Banner, September 14, 1814.
And this poem that I remember learning in my school days:
Your flag and my flag,
And how it flies today
In your land and my land
And half a world away!
Rose-red and blood-red
The stripes for ever gleam;
Snow-white and soul-white–
The good forefathers’ dream;
Sky-blue and true-blue, with stars to gleam aright–
The gloried guidon of the day; a shelter through the night
- Wilbur D. Nesbit, “A Song for Flag Day.”