Why is Flag Day celebrated?
Old Glory “tells America’s story,” ever evolving, and “embodies the very soul of America.” So it’s fitting that we should celebrate a holiday in its honor.
While seeing the Stars and Stripes flying from houses and buildings across the United States is a common sight, you may have noticed around the 14th of June that it is done with even more reverence. That is because the week surrounding that date is Flag Week, and the day itself Flag Day. So, some of you may be curious where the origins of Flag Day stem from.
During the American Revolutionary War, the Second Continental Congress passed a motion determining the first flag that would be used to represent the new nation. The decision was made on 14 June 1777 and in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson established the date as Flag Day.
A few decades later the US Congress passed a law that allows US presidents to proclaim an observance of the holiday. Cities and towns across the United States have planned parades and other celebrations for most of the twentieth century.
Quincy, Massachusetts, which has held a parade on Flag Day since 1952, continued the tradition this year. On 10 June, the small New England town hosted the 71st annual parade which featured “bands/drum corps, more than a dozen specialty units, public safety and veterans’ color guards, floats, and more than 1,000 flag-waving youngsters.”
Will Joe Biden declare the observance of Flag Day?
Yes. On 9 June, the White House released a presidential decree declaring the week of 14 June as Flag Week. The White House called on leaders of all federal buildings and citizens to display the flag to commemorate the holiday.
President Biden reminded those in the US of all the places the Stars and Stripes has been flown as “an emblem of our strength at home and abroad, synonymous with America as a force for good in the world.” It has adorned battlefields since the Revolution and over the last century has served as a reminder to friends and foes that “the darkness of autocracy is no match for the flame of liberty.” It also flies over our monuments and sacred cemeteries where “brave Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and future” rest in peace.
The US flag is additionally “stands for hope, pride, and progress” which is displayed with honor on everything from our exports to our spacecraft flying high above. As well “it waves for justice and equality” flying high over our courthouses and schools, and where free and fair elections are held across the nation “reinforcing the promise of our democracy.”
The First US Flag
Some may recall from their grade school years that the first US flag was designed by seamstress Betsy Ross. Out of more than seventeen submissions, Ross’ flag was chosen for how its simple design was able to capture the spirit of the revolution. The simple design looks very similar to the one used today with one notable exception -- the number of stars. At the time of its creation, thirteen stars were used to represent each of the founding colonies that fought in the Revolutionary War.
As more states were added to the Union, so was a star for each of them. The most recent star to be added represents Hawaii, which became the 50th state in 1959.