Flag Day: What You Might Not Have Known

Thousands of flags fly across the United States every single day, but Flag Day, held every year on June 14, is dedicated specifically to celebrating the United States flag.

The first time Flag Day was observed nationally was on June 14, 1877. This observation came 100 years after the flag resolution was adopted by the Continental Congress and George Washington gave the order to Betsy Ross for the very first American flag.

“Resolved, That the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”

Even though Betsy Ross is credited with being the creator of the American flag, the first flag was likely created by Francis Hopkinson. When Hopkinson requested “a quarter cask of the public wine” as payment for his design of the flag, he was turned down.

Betsy Ross actually sewed the first flag according to a pattern, which was probably Hopkinson’s.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson established the holiday of Flag Day, and in 1949, Congress declared that Flag Day, on June 14, would be a national holiday.

“It has therefore seemed to me fitting that I should call your attention to the approach of the anniversary of the day upon which the flag of the United States was adopted by the Congress as the emblem of the Union, and to suggest to you that it should this year and in the years to come be given special significance as a day of renewal and reminder, a day upon which we should direct our minds with a special desire of renewal to thoughts of the ideals and principles of which we have sought to make our great Government the embodiment.”

Flag Day is not a federal holiday, and Pennsylvania is the only state to make Flag Day a state holiday. However, it is full of tradition and gestures of respect for the flag and the United States.

Though Woodrow Wilson’s proclamation requested for Flag Day to be a holiday, Bernard J. Cigrand is considered to be the father of Flag Day.

When Cigrand was a teacher at a high school in Waubeka, Wisconsin, he placed a small flag on his desk and told his students to write essays about it. According to the National Flag Day Foundation, Cigrand spent most of his life being an advocate for making Flag Day a national holiday.

Since the flag was first created, it has been changed 27 times to accommodate for the addition of new states.

[Photo By Spencer Platt / Getty Images]