The Unfurling of Flag Day

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1. The origins of Flag Day

On June 14th, 1777, the United States, by a resolution of the second Continental Congress, replaced the British Grand Union flag with a flag representing its thirteen colonies. Its design displayed thirteen white stars arranged in a circle on a field of blue, and thirteen red and white stripes. According to legend, a seamstress named Betsy Ross was entrusted with the task of making the first flag.

2. The Founders of Flag Day

Bernard Cigrand worked tirelessly towards establishing June 14th as Flag Day. In 1885, he observed Flag Day at Stony Hill School, and a year later, he put forward a public proposal for the annual observance of the birth of the flag in the Chicago Argus newspaper. He went on to become the president of the American Flag Day Association and the National Flag Day Society. In 1888, William Kerr founded the American Flag Day Association of Western Pennsylvania and later became the chairman of the American Flag Day Association.

3.The idea spreads across the USA

In April 1893, at the suggestion of Colonel Granville Leach, the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames of America adopted a resolution requesting the mayor of Philadelphia, other influential persons and ordinary citizens to prominently display the national flag on June 14th. The Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution endorsed this request, and the Superintendent of the public schools of Philadelphia called for Flag Day exercises to be held in Independence Square. In 1889, George Balch conducted a Flag Day ceremony in a school in New York City, which was adopted by the State Board of Education.

4. Official acknowledgement from the White House

In 1916 and 1927, Presidents Wilson and Coolidge issued proclamations officially establishing June 14th as Flag Day. In 1949, legislation was passed by Congress and signed by President Truman.

5. National Flag Week

In 1966, Congress requested the President to issue a proclamation announcing the dates of Flag Week in the week of June 14th every year.

6. Flag Day celebrations

Flags are displayed on government and public buildings, offices and homes. Patriotic programs have been held since the late 19th century in various parts of USA. These have usually involved school children and civic groups. In recent times, parades have been a regular feature of Flag Day celebrations. Other events include quiz and essay competitions, services, musical salutes and awards for special recognition. These activities and traditions are co-ordinated by the National Flag Day Foundation.

7. Army Birthday

On June 14th, 1777, the Continental Congress adopted the American Continental Army. The US Army celebrates this day as its birthday.

8. The evolution of the flag

The original US flag had 13 stars and stripes. Since then, there have been 27 official versions. The maximum number of stripes on the flag was fifteen. Now, the design specifies thirteen equal red and white stripes, representing the first thirteen states. The stripes must be red at the top and bottom, alternating with white. A blue rectangle in the canton displays fifty white five-pointed stars, one for each state.

9. Nicknames

The US flag is commonly referred to as ‘the Stars and Stripes’. It is also called ‘the Star-Spangled Banner’, ‘Red, White and Blue’ and ‘Old Glory’.

 10. Ideals associated with Flag Day

Flag Day is a time for the citizens of USA to reflect on the foundation of the country’s freedom, and the ideals of loyalty, liberty, justice and unity. In 1914, Franklin Lane, in a Flag Day address, said that the flag communicated the following words to him: ‘I am what you make me, nothing more. I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of colour, a symbol of yourself.’

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