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.”