Last updated on June 20, 2017 at 03:44 pm
Everyone knows the American flag is important – a symbol of freedom and independence – and it is present in every small town, school and office building, and at every sporting event. We learn the Pledge of Allegiance at a young age and we wear our flag colors proudly on the Fourth of July. But what do we really know about Flag Day? We see it on the calendar every year on June 14 but what’s the meaning behind it? Below are some of the key moments that led to Flag Day as we know it today.
- When the United States declared its independence from Great Britain in 1776, the thirteen colonies created a flag to represent their freedom. On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act, which declared that the official flag of the U.S. would be made of thirteen red and white stripes and thirteen white stars on a blue background.
- However, Flag Day was not celebrated until almost 100 years later. In 1861, George Morris suggested that there should be a day to celebrate the birth of the American Flag. He organized an event in Hartford, Connecticut to represent patriotism and honor the American flag. Although Morris is credited with the idea of the holiday, Bernard J. Cigrand is recognized as the “Father of Flag Day” for his efforts in seeking national recognition for the holiday.
- In 1885, Cigrand, a grade school teacher in Wisconsin, held the first formal observance of Flag Day at his school. From then on, Cigrand traveled across the country to promote patriotism and honor the flag that represents U.S independence. While living in Chicago in 1886, he proposed that Flag Day be observed annually. A Chicago newspaper published Cigrand’s ideas for the holiday and celebrations ensued nationwide.
- Communities across the country held parades, parties and other celebrations every year until finally, on May 30, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation declaring a national holiday on June 14 to observe the day the American flag was born. However, it was not until August 3, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14 as National Flag Day.
As you continue to wear the American flag on your clothing and fly the flag at your home, remember the symbolism behind the flag and what it means to our country. And next year, when you look at your calendar, you’ll know exactly why it reads “Flag Day” on June 14.