The Flag Day campaign was started in 1861 in Hartford, Connecticut but it didn’t catch on until much later. By 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day. Then, in August 1949, National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress. Pennsylvania is the first – and only – state to celebrate Flag Day as a state holiday – initiating the celebratory day in 1937.
June 14 in
The United States
No one positively knows who designed the first Stars and Stripes, or who made the first flag. Soon after the flag was adopted by our new government, Congressman Francis Hopkinson claimed that he had designed it. Most historians believe that Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia seamstress, made the first U.S. flag.
On June 14, 1777, in order to establish an official flag of the new nation, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act: “Resolved, that the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
Specifically, the official colors are “White”, “Old Glory Red”, and “Old Glory Blue”. The 13 stripes represent the 13 original colonies of the US: Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Virginia.
The 50 stars represent the individual states that make up the nation. Popular history states the red of the flag represents valor, white stands for liberty or purity and blue represents justice, loyalty and perseverance. These meanings are unofficial though.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day. Then, in August 1949, National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress. Pennsylvania is the first – and only – state to celebrate Flag Day as a state holiday – initiating the celebratory day in 1937.
United States Flag Code
The flag is customarily flown all year-round at most public buildings, and it is not unusual to find private houses flying full-size (3 by 5 feet) flags. Some private use is year-round, but becomes widespread on civic holidays such as Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Presidents’ Day, Flag Day, and on Independence Day.
On Memorial Day it is common to place small flags by war memorials and next to the graves of U.S. war veterans. Also on Memorial Day it is common to fly the flag at half staff, until noon, in remembrance of those who lost their lives fighting in U.S. wars.
The United States Flag Code outlines certain guidelines for the use, display, and disposal of the flag. For example, the flag should never be dipped to any person or thing, unless it is the ensign responding to a salute from a ship of a foreign nation. This tradition may come from the 1908 Summer Olympics in London, where countries were asked to dip their flag to King Edward VII: the American flag bearer did not. Team captain Martin Sheridan is famously quoted as saying “this flag dips to no earthly king”, though the true provenance of this quotation is unclear.
The flag should never be allowed to touch the ground and, if flown at night, must be illuminated. If the edges become tattered through wear, the flag should be repaired or replaced. When a flag is so tattered that it can no longer serve as a symbol of the United States, it should be destroyed in a dignified manner, preferably by burning. The American Legion and other organizations regularly conduct flag retirement ceremonies, often on Flag Day, June 14.
Significantly, the Flag Code prohibits using the flag “for any advertising purpose” and also states that the flag “should not be embroidered, printed, or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use”. Both of these codes are generally ignored, almost always without comment.
One of the most commonly ignored and misunderstood aspects of the Flag Code is section 8, entitled Respect For Flag, which states in part: “The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery”, and “No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform”. Section 3 of the Flag Code defines “the flag” as anything “by which the average person seeing the same without deliberation may believe the same to represent the flag of the United States of America”. Therefore, contrary to popular belief, the U.S. Flag Code does discourage the use of the U.S. flag design in fashion, etc.
Although the Flag Code is U.S. federal law, there is no penalty for a private citizen or group failing to comply with the Flag Code and it is not widely enforced—indeed, punitive enforcement would conflict with the First Amendment right to freedom of speech.
Official Days To Be Displayed
The flag should especially be displayed at full staff on the following days:
1st (New Year’s Day),
3rd Monday of the month (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day,
20th (Inauguration Day, once every four years)
12th (Lincoln’s birthday)
3rd Monday (legally known as Washington’s Birthday but more often called Presidents’ Day
3rd Saturday (Armed Forces Day)
last Monday (Memorial Day; half-staff until noon)
14th (Flag Day)
4th (Independence Day)
27th (National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day)
1st Monday (Labor Day),
17th (Constitution Day)
2nd Monday (Columbus Day)
27th (Navy Day)
11th (Veterans Day)
4th Thursday (Thanksgiving Day)
25th Christmas Day (Official U.S. Holiday)
- and such other days as may be proclaimed by the President of the United States; the birthdays of states (date of admission); and on state holidays.
The American Legion is the top source of information on the U.S. Flag Code. It also published a pamphlet “Let’s be Right on Flag Etiquette,” which is a guide on how to properly display the flag under all conditions.
originally posted on Jun 14, 2014