Today is Flag Day.

National Flag Day is today, Friday, June 14, and what better time to stop and reflect on what our flag means to us. Our flag developed through a series of flags beginning in 1774. In 1775 the Minutemen carried the famous Rattlesnake flag showing thirteen red and white stripes with a rattlesnake emblazoned across it, the warning words, ‘’Don’t Tread on Me’’.

The banner that flew over Fort Moultrie had displayed a crescent on a blue field. The Pine Tree Flag flew over the troops at Bunker Hill. It was white with a top and bottom stripe of blue, and a green pine tree with the words, “Liberty Tree—An Appeal to God”.

The first flag to represent the colonies at sea was raised by John Paul Jones from the deck of the ship Alfred in late 1775.

This same flag was displayed one month later by George Washington and was named the Grand Union Flag on January 2, 1776. It had 13 alternate red and white stripes and blue field with the crosses of Saint Andrew and Saint George on it.

On June 14, 1777, Congress adopted the following resolution:-

“Resolved that the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white: that the union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field.”

The significance of the colors was defined thus: “White signifies Purity and Innocence: Red, Hardiness and Valor: Blue, Vigilance, Perseverance and Justice.”

Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia flag maker is credited with making the first flag and suggesting the stars be five pointed. Her home is a national shrine and the flag flies on a staff from her third floor window. This house is known as the Birthplace of Old Glory.

Today, our flag has 13 horizontal stripes of equal width, seven red, separated by six white. The union consists of 50 five-pointed white stars on a blue field placed in the upper quarter placed next to the staff and extending to the lower edge of the fourth red stripe from the top.

First Known Celebration Day

Bernard J. Cigrand, a one room school teacher in Wisconsin, was the first known person to lead his students in honoring the flag on June 14, 1885. Word spread from village to village, to newspapers, and publications prompting other towns with schools to follow suit.

By the late 1890’s schools in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago joined in on celebrating the flag. In 1894 a massive celebration was held with more than 300,000 school children in various city parks in Chicago on June 14 of that year.

On June 14, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson said, “ This flag, which we honor and under which we serve, is the emblem of our unity, our power, our thought and purpose as a nation. It has no other character than that which we give it from generation to generation’’.

President Harry S. Truman signed an act of Congress in 1949 placing June 14 on the national calendar, the one day when our flag can receive her just due.

By a Joint Resolution on June 9,1966, Congress requested the president to issue annually a proclamation designating the week in which June 14 occurs as National Flag Week and calling upon citizens of the United States to display the flag during that week.

The National Flag Day Foundation, Inc. was created in 1982 to conduct educational programs throughout the United States in promotion of National Flag Day and to encourage national patriotism by promotion of the Pause For The Pledge Of Allegiance. On June 20, 1985, the 99th Congress passed, and President Ronald Reagan signed Public Law 99-54 recognizing the Pause For The Pledge Of Allegiance as part of National Flag Day activities.

It is an invitation urging all Americans to participate at 7 p.m., (EDT) on June 14, in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The effect of this simple ceremony, which transcends age, race, religion, national origin, political and geographical differences, is a stimulating patriotic experience at home and a sign of unity abroad.

The Pledge of Allegiance

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, on Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”

Our flag does not represent a dynasty or royal family, it represents each of us—you, and me, and the millions of us, who are free, and enjoy the freedoms of our country, the United States of America as we continue as a democratic nation.

Note: Reference for this story taken from The American Legion Magazine—June, 2001 and Missouri Army National Guard booklet, Old Glory, The story of Our Flag.