June 14 is Flag Day in America – a day dedicated to honoring the most patriotic symbol of our country.
Sure, you know that the flag should be revered and that there are guidelines for proper flag display and usage, but you may not be as familiar with the information below. Check out these 13 Flag Day facts, and wow your friends at the next backyard barbecue.
- The Continental Congress adopted the following resolution on June 14, 1777:“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.”
- The colors of the flag have meaning: Red symbolizes hardiness and valor; white symbolizes purity and innocence; blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.
- In July 1813, the United States was at war, and the commander at Baltimore’s Fort McHenry wanted a large flag to send a message to the British. Mary Pickersgill, along with her daughter, Caroline, her nieces and a 13-year-old African-American child, Grace Wisher, created the flag in six weeks.
- That flag was 30 feet tall and 42 feet wide, with 15 stars and 15 stripes – one for each of the 13 original colonies plus Vermont and Kentucky, which were newly-admitted states.
- This was the flag that, on September 14, 1814, inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem that became our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” after he watched the British navy’s failed attack on Fort McHenry. The anthem is set to the tune of “To Anacreon in Heaven,” a popular British drinking song.
- You can visit this original star-spangled banner at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Thanks to the Maryland Historical Society, you can also view Key’s original poem, which is on loan until July 6.
- The idea of an annual day celebrating the flag is believed to have first originated in 1885, when Wisconsin teacher Bernard J. Cigrand had his students observe a “flag birthday.”
- Inspired by decades of celebrations, President Woodrow Wilson established Flag Day by proclamation on May 30, 1916.
- Between 1777 and 1960, Congress passed legislation that changed the design of the flag and allowed stars and stripes to be added to reflect the admission of each new state. Each new star was to be added on the 4th of July following the state’s entry into the Union.
- President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14 of each year as National Flag Day on August 3, 1949.
- Today, Flag Day is a nationwide observance, but Pennsylvania is the only state that recognizes it as a legal holiday.
- The U.S. flag is flown 24 hours a day by either presidential proclamation or law at the following places:
- Fort McHenry, National Monument and Historic Shrine, Baltimore, MD
- Flag House Square, Baltimore, MD
- United States Marine Corps Memorial (Iwo Jima), Arlington, VA
- On the Green of the Town of Lexington, MA
- The White House, Washington, D.C.
- United States Customs ports of entry
- Grounds of the National Memorial Arch in Valley Forge State Park, Valley Forge, PA
- Every year, by presidential proclamation, all U.S. citizens are urged to display the flag during the week of June 14, and it should be displayed at all government buildings.
Many homes across America feature flags to demonstrate their patriotism and support of the land of the free and the home of the brave. How will you celebrate Flag Day?