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

American flag

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.

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