Between Memorial Day and Independence Day is a lesser-celebrated but no less important patriotic observance: Flag Day.
Celebrated on June 14, Flag Day honors the establishment of an official U.S. flag by resolution of the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. The resolution stated: “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
But while the flag was adopted in 1777, it took a long time for it to get its official day.
According to an article, “The Origins of Flag Day,” by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C., “Although there are many claims to the first official observance of Flag Day, all but one took place more than an entire century after the flag’s adoption in 1777.”
Several citizens in different parts of the country — from Connecticut to Wisconsin to Pennsylvania to New York — pushed in separate campaigns for the adoption of Flag Day in the late 1800s.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation establishing June 14 as Flag Day. President Calvin Coolidge did the same in 1927. But it wasn’t until 1949 that Congress enacted a statute officially recognizing Flag Day, and President Harry Truman signed it into law.
- Betsy Ross is widely credited for designing the first U.S. flag, though there is a lack of evidence supporting the story.
- The U.S. flag design has been changed 26 times since 1777.
- The modern 50-star flag was designed by 17-year-old high school student Robert G. Heft of Ohio as part of a school assignment in 1958. His original grade — a B minus — was changed to an A after his flag was sent to Washington, D.C., and selected by President Dwight Eisenhower.
- The flag’s red and white stripes represent the 13 original Colonies. The white stars on a blue field represent the 50 states.
- The U.S. Flag Code says “the flag should be displayed on all days” and should “especially” be displayed New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Inauguration Day, Lincoln’s Birthday, Washington’s Birthday, Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Patriot Day, Constitution Day, Columbus Day, Navy Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
- According to USA.gov, “The colors on the flag represent: Red: valor and bravery; White: purity and innocence; Blue: vigilance, perseverance, and justice.”
- According to a book about the flag published in 1977 by the House of Representatives, “The star is a symbol of the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial; the stripe is symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun.”
- Though the Pledge of Allegiance was written by ordained minister Francis Bellamy, his original version did not include “under God.” The language was added and signed into law by President Eisenhower on Flag Day 1954.
A link to the entire U.S. Flag Code and information about “How to Display the American Flag” is available at
USA.gov/flag. Here are a few basic pointers:
- “The flag shouldn’t be flown in inclement weather unless it’s an all-weather flag.”
- “Flags displayed at night should be properly illuminated.”
- “In a time of national mourning, hang the flag at half-staff.”
- “When displaying the flag against a wall … place the union (blue section) at the top left corner.”
- “Keep your flag completely dry and folded properly — into a triangle with the union (blue section) visible — before storing it in a well-ventilated area. If the flag is damaged or worn out, it should be disposed of with dignity,” preferably by burning.
- “The flag should not touch anything below it or rest on the ground.”
Flag Day event
On June 9 at 7 p.m. in Little Rock’s MacArthur Park, the Little Rock Wind Symphony will present a “Stars and Stripes Celebration for Flag Day” concert. The event is described as an “old-fashioned concert in the park, featuring marches, patriotic songs and Broadway show tunes.” The wind symphony promises, “We’ll have your hands clapping and toes tapping in no time!” Hosted by the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, the event is free. For more information, call 501-666-0777 or visit lrwinds.org.