The United States of America celebrates Flag Day every year on the 14th of June to honor the event of raising the flag and adopting the standard stars and stripes on it. Flag Day is considered to be one of the most important national events and celebrations within the country that witnesses major events and a large audience. However, it was never this popular. A series of recurring recognitions and observations led the government and citizens to realize the importance of this day, which was later molded into a tradition. Residents all around the country celebrate this joyous day at home, at work, and in public places.
But how exactly did this event come into the picture? Why is it celebrated? And how is it celebrated? Let’s dig deeper to find out the answers.
Why is it Celebrated?
President Woodrow Wilson was the first to mark this day as the commemoration of this adoption, in the year 1916. It actually dates back to the year 1777, 14th June, when the flag was decided and declared as the official national flag by the Second Continental Congress. Even though it was named as an official day in the country, this event wasn’t celebrated or officially recognized until the year 1946 when an Act of Congress declared it.
Notably, the first celebration was for the existence of this flag was actually held 100 years later which is in 1877. But there are discussions about a school teacher named Bernard J. Cigrand in Wisconsin who pointed out the birth of the flag on 14th June and observed it as the 108th anniversary with his students. The teacher is now named as the ‘Father of Flag Day’ as he kept on raising awareness to his fellow citizens about the importance of this day.
Later, the New York State Board of Education decided to add this recognition due to an observation by another teacher named George Balch. And as time passed, more and more states started adopting and recognizing this celebration after New York and it’s been going strong ever since.
The History Behind Flag Day
It is interesting to note that there was another reference made for the birth of the flag even before 1885 when BJ Cigrand pointed it out. It goes back to the year 1861 when a reference was made by George Morris that’s pointed out in a Standard Publishing Company printed book named ‘Kansas: a Cyclopedia of State History’, published in 1912. According to the reference, Hartford recognized and celebrated this event, calling it ‘Flag Day’ and following a pompous patriotic ritual. However, it was somehow never carried forward from that point.
Interestingly, the flag that was adopted at that time by Congress didn’t align with the design of the flag that we have today. The stars and points weren’t aligned in arrays and instead just had 13 stars. These 13 stars represented the colonies that were freed from the British Empire. In fact, there were a lot of design arrangements made with these 13 stars initially. And after a lot of design options and variations with the arrangements, the star-spangled banner design was finally finalized and adopted.
There are also noted speculations of Betsy Ross, who was an important part of the Revolutionary War in mending uniforms and tents, designing and preparing the national flag. There is no concrete proof for this event, thus it remains speculation to date. It’s still believable because she was mentioned in the press conference held by her grandson William Canby to honor and spread the word about her contribution.
Over the span of these 250 years until the year 1960, the stars were gathered and increased as the number of states grew within the country. The last one to join as a 50th star was Hawaii in 1960, after Alaska. Even after these additions, there were a lot of design changes and options made for the final flag look. The final design was chosen among around 1500 designs and the winning entry was chosen by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1960. Flag manufacturers have to adhere to certain military and government standards which, according to starspangledflags.com, maximum attention should be paid to. There are a few strict regulations when it comes to producing and using national flags, such as – the flag should not be printed on decorative items, accessories, and apparel.
How is it Celebrated?
Unfortunately for the citizens of the United States, this event isn’t declared as a federal public holiday. However, the country celebrates Flag Day in its own special ways. One major way that residents use to mark the importance of this day is by holding and organizing the annual Flag Day parade, which is a major attraction in Troy, New York and in the town of Dedham in Massachusetts. Thousands of people gather to view the amazing spectacle of these parades and it is known to be an eye-catching event. The entire week surrounding the 14th June is known as the National Flag Week and people also celebrate it enthusiastically at home. They put up flags in their homes and offices. The flag or the combination of stars and stripes can be viewed on a large scale on government buildings.
Apart from parades and pompous street events, competitions such as debates and essay contests, and picnics are held all over the country, especially by and for schools and veteran groups. It’s also done to inculcate the feeling of nationalism and patriotism among children and adults and to preserve the rich national history in the form of tradition. Also, every second Sunday in June is celebrated as the annual observance, irrespective of the date it falls on. The National Flag Day Foundation holds this event and the events are fragmented into the raising of the national flag, followed by the Pledge of Alliance recital, finished off with the national anthem. Of course, there are parades and contests as well.
Flag Day has become a historic event in the United States of America, with a series of interesting stories and celebration events. If you’re visiting the states in June, you should definitely attend any one of the parades.