Flag Day: What is It and Why Do We Celebrate It?
Flag Day is observed on June 14 and while it is not a federally recognized national holiday, it is a state recognized holiday in both New York and Pennsylvania.
Flag Day honors the resolution put forth by the Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia on June 14, 1777. That resolution called for the flag to “be 13 stripes, alternating red and white, that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” Because there was no instruction given on how many points the stars should have, or how they should be arranged on the blue union, some flags had stars scattered around the blue field with no design, some arranged the stars in a row, and some in a circle. The first Navy Stars and Stripes had the stars arranged in a staggered formation in alternate rows of threes and twos on a blue field. Other Stars and Stripes flags had the stars aranged in alternate rows of four, five and four. Some stars had six points, and others had eight.
The first proclamation for flag day came from President Woodrow Wilson in 1916.
“I therefore suggest and request that throughout the nation and if possible in every community the fourteenth day of June be observed as Flag Day with special patriotic exercises”
President Harry Truman later signed Flag Day’s permanent observance into law in 1949, according to publications.usa.gov.
The flag as we know it today was designed by a 17-year old student in anticipation of Alaska and Hawaii becoming states. Robert G Heft turned in the 50-star flag as a part of a history project for which he was awarded a B- before submitting it to Congress for consideration. After President Dwight D. Eisenhower called Robert in August 1959 to tell him his design had been chosen over 1,500 others, his teacher changed his grade to an A.
Celebrating Flag Day is a tradition in many communities across this great country.
Today, Flag Day is celebrated with parades, essay contests, ceremonies, and picnics sponsored by veterans’ groups, schools, and groups like the National Flag Day foundation whose goal is to preserve the traditions, history, pride, and respect that are due the nation’s symbol, Old Glory.