It was June 14, 1885, just a little more than 100 years since the United States of America declared independence from Great Britain, when Bernard J. Cigrand told his students to write an essay on what the stars and stripes meant to them, thus starting the origin story of Flag Day.
Though it all started with Cigrand, it was an act of Congress in 1949 that initially established June 14 each year as Flag Day. But even before that, President Woodrow Wilson called for a national observance of Flag Day in 1916.
“For over 200 years, our flag has proudly represented our nation and our ideals at home and abroad,” he said. “It has billowed above monuments and memorials, flown beside the halls of government, stood watch over our oldest institutions, and graced our homes and storefronts. Generations of service members have raised our country’s colors over military bases and at sea, and generations of Americans have lowered them to mourn those we have lost. Though our flag has changed to reflect the growth of our Republic, it will forever remain an emblem of the ideals that inspired our great nation: liberty, democracy, and the enduring freedom to make of our lives what we will.”
Noting that the United States sufferers from the division of partisan politics, the president called upon citizens to remember that quite literally, we’re all in this together.
“As we reflect on our heritage, let us remember that our destiny is stitched together like those 50 stars and 13 stripes,” he said. “In red, white, and blue, we see the spirit of a nation, the resilience of our union, and the promise of a future forged in common purpose and dedication to the principles that have always kept America strong.”
DiamondBarPatch.com reports that Flag Day’s most famous origin story is that of Cigrand. The story goes that on June 14th, 1885, Cigrand placed a 10-inch, 38-star flag in an inkwell on his desk and assigned his students at Stony Hill School to write essays on the flag and its significance.
That observance, commemorated Congresses adoption of the Stars and Stripes as the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777, according to the site. It was also the beginning of a life-long devotion of Cigrand’s to see Flag Day recognized, and he would live to see President Wilson call for the day’s national observance.