Flag Day, USA!
Here is the History and some Fun Facts for the 240th Flag Day of the United States of America.
In the United States, Flag Day is celebrated on June 14. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on June 14, 1777, by resolution of the Second Continental Congress.
The Fourth of July was traditionally celebrated as America’s birthday, but the idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the Flag is believed to have first originated in 1885. BJ Cigrand, a schoolteacher, arranged for the pupils in the Fredonia, Wisconsin Public School, District 6, to observe June 14 (the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes) as ‘Flag Birthday’. In numerous magazines and newspaper articles and public addresses over the following years, Cigrand continued to enthusiastically advocate the observance of June 14 as ‘Flag Birthday’, or ‘Flag Day’.
Still, Flag Day struggled for official respect. It wasn’t until 1916 that President Woodrow Wilson issued a wishy-washy proclamation to “suggest and request. . . if possible” that people observe Flag Day. Thirty-three years later, in 1949, President Harry S. Truman signed an act naming Flag Day as the 14th.
10 Fun Facts of Flag Day that you may not have known.
#1. Betsy Ross is widely credited with designing the first American flag, but there is almost no evidence to support that claim. The only records of Ross’ involvement came from her own grandson in 1870, when he presented the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia with affidavits from his own family members as evidence. Instead, many historians believe that Francis Hopkinson deserves the credit, because early journals from the Continental Congress are said to explicitly name him as the flag’s designer.
#2. Karen Burke of Walmart’s Corporate Communications revealed that Walmart stores sold around 115,000 American flags on September 11, 2001, as compared to 6,400 flags on the same date in 2000. In the year following 9/11 (September 11, 2001, through August 19, 2011), they sold 7.8 million American flags as compared to 2.5 million the year before.
#3. A 17-year old student designed the flag as it appears today. In anticipation of Alaska and Hawaii becoming states, Robert G. Heft created the 50-star flag as part of a history project (for which he received a B-) before submitting it to Congress for consideration. In August of 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower chose Heft’s design over 1,500 other applicants and informed him of the news over the phone. (Heft’s teacher also changed his grade to an A).
#4. Despite the harsh temperatures and conditions of the moon’s atmosphere, five of the six flags that were planted during the Apollo missions are still standing. According to Buzz Aldrin, the one that fell was blown over by the exhaust from Apollo 11 during its liftoff from the moon’s surface.
#5. Flag Day isn’t technically a federal holiday, and it’s not a state holiday outside of Pennsylvania and New York. Furthermore, New York’s official observance of Flag Day isn’t June 14 (when it’s commonly celebrated), but rather the second Sunday in June.
#6. Old Glory was actually the nickname of a specific U.S. Flag, namely, the one owned by sea captain William Driver. He was previously given the flag by the women in his hometown of Salem, Mass., but he only named it Old Glory upon seeing it flying on his ship’s mast in 1831. The name later went on to become synonymous with any American flag.
#7. It was believed New Jersey Rep. Francis Hopkinson, signer of the Declaration of Independence, designed the first American flag. Later, many believed Betsy Ross designed the flag, but there’s no evidence she designed the first American flag, although she was paid at one point for creating “ships colours.”
#8. The flag didn’t always have 13 stripes. In 1794, two extra stars and stripes were added to honor Kentucky and Vermont joining the Union.
#9. According to usflag.org, the colors of the flag signify purity, valor, and justice. The white is for purity, the red is for valor and blue is for justice.
#10. Section 4 of the Flag Code states: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men should remove any non-religious headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute.”