Flag Day: Be True to the Red, White & Blue

Flag Day is one of the more under-the-radar (some might say forgotten) holidays of the year. Nobody gets the day off; there’s no cookout; there may not even be a mattress sale. So why do we celebrate it — and how?

The idea of a day celebrating the flag was first suggested by Wisconsin schoolteacher B.J. Cigrand, says USFlag.org, who held the first “Flag Birthday” on June 14, 1885 — the 108th anniversary of the adoption of the Stars & Stripes as America’s official symbol. Appropriately enough, Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia picked up on the idea just a few years later in 1891.

The concept continued to spread among schools and patriotic organizations until 1894, when New York State made it official policy to fly the flag on June 14 and the Chicago-based American Flag Day Association staged events for more than 300,000 schoolchildren. Flag Day was a regular observance by 1916, when President Wilson established June 14 as the day to observe it. An Act of Congress made the day official in 1949 under President Truman.

While still not a federal holiday with a guaranteed paid day off, Flag Day invites homes and businesses to fly the flag (observing official guidelines for display). People can celebrate the symbol by pledging allegiance, singing the national anthem and/or saluting the red, white and blue. Veterans’ groups often add a performance of Taps to their Flag Day observances.

To get kids involved in the event, says Everyday Health, give them craft projects such as decorating patriotic flowerpots or making red, white and blue necklaces and baked goods. You can usually find a variety of craft supplies, kitchenwares and lightly used flags of all sizes on sale at the thrift and secondhand stores supplied by ClothingDonations.org.

As you celebrate Flag Day, remember what the Stars & Stripes stand for: The blue field and stars symbolize heaven and men’s goals, in addition to the current states in the union. Red is the color of valor, and white is the color of purity; the 13 stripes represent the original 13 colonies. Stitched together, they symbolize the promise of America and the dreams of its many people — truly the fabric of our country.

Flag Day: Stars And Stripes Forever

Flag Day may be America’s most unsung holiday, according to Lifescript. Lost in the summertime shuffle between Memorial Day and Independence Day and not necessarily falling on a weekend, it often gets forgotten. But its patriotic roots go back to the Revolutionary War.

The Second Continental Congress passed the Flag Act on June 14, 1777, specifying a design featuring 13 alternating red and white stripes and a blue field with 13 white stars as the banner of the new nation. The original design of the Stars and Stripes — usually attributed to Betsy Ross — was the first to use five-pointed stars.

Flag Day, however, was largely the handiwork of Bernard J. Cigrand, a patriotic Wisconsin schoolteacher. He held the first formal observance of Flag Day in 1885 and began to lobby for an annual day of observance the following year.

By the mid-1890s, Cigrand’s advocacy produced Flag Day celebrations of up to 300,000 schoolchildren in his adopted home of Chicago. President Woodrow Wilson recognized Flag Day in 1916, and June 14 became a national holiday under President Truman in 1949.

The holiday continues to celebrate the flag’s design and the work of the founding fathers. The flag’s stars represent not only the states, but the concepts of heaven and mortal goals, while its colors represent valor, bravery and purity. In time, the original 13 colonies became 50 states, and a star was added for each.

While Flag Day is not a mandated holiday, schoolchildren and cities throughout the country continue to recognize the flag and the sovereignty it represents on June 14 with ceremonial flag raisings and other observances. Many celebrations also feature a salute to the armed forces.

You can participate in Flag Day celebrations by flying the flag proudly on June 14; just be sure to fly it according to the U.S. Flag Code. You can also get the kids involved in patriotic craft projects and assist veterans’ organizations with their observances.

“The American flag continues to invoke pride and resolve among our people, especially when we see it next to a headstone, on the masts of our military ships [or] worn by the generations of Americans who have proudly served our country,” said President George W. Bush’s 2003 proclamation expanding the observance to Flag Week.

“Flying over public buildings, monuments, schools and homes, our flag is testament to the ideals of American democracy.”