Honoring Old Glory
Ever wondered about the history of Flag Day and why it is observed as a holiday? Flag Day is celebrated on June 14 as a commemoration of the adoption of the flag of the United States by a resolution of the Second Continental Congress which occurred on June 14, 1777. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation officially establishing June 14 as Flag Day, but it was not until August of 1946 that National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress.
Although Flag Day was established as a formal national holiday in 1949, it was not made a federal holiday.
Flag Day is only an official holiday in the state of Pennsylvania, which may be fitting as legend states that Betsy Ross sewed the first flag in Pennsylvania.
The red, white and blue of the American flag has an interesting history, going through various changes and updates over the past 200 plus years.
The following are some interesting facts and historical statements about the American flag:
• Before Betsy Ross announced that she had sewn the official American flag, six different designs were flown. Those six designs included a series of alternating red and white stripes, the Liberty Tree, the Sons of Liberty and the Forester flag designs.
• The Second Continental Congress proposed and passed the Flag Act of 1777 on June 14, 1777. The proposal designated the flag was to have thirteen stripes, alternating red and white, with thirteen white stars on a blue field. The thirteen stars signified the original members of the Union.
• In 1795 the American flag underwent the first set of changes when the stars and stripes were increased to 15 in recognition of the addition of Kentucky and Vermont to the Union.
• During the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the poem that would eventually become the nation’s national anthem.
• William Driver, a sea caption from Massachusetts referred to a large, 10 foot by 17 foot flag as “Old Glory” after it survived multiple defacing attempts during the American Civil War.
Driver’s reference inspired the nickname commonly used today
• In 1818 another design was adopted, which is the design represented on flag today, that permanently set the number of stripes at 13.
These 13 alternating white and red stripes are in honor of the original colonies.
The current design also showcases 50 white stars representing the 50 states of the Union.
The colors of the flag each signify a different meaning; red for hardiness and valor, white for purity and innocence and blue for vigilance, perseverance and justice.
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