Wednesday, June 14, 2017 is an important American holiday: Flag Day. The observance is intended to honor the broad stripes and bright stars over the land of the free and home of the brave. Today is not a federal holiday and there are no Flag Day barbecues, as the day is considered by some to be “the runty stepchild among American national holidays.”
On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed a resolution, officially designating the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the newly formed country. It decreed that “the flag of the United States [should] be 13 stripes, alternate red and white” and “that the union [should] be 13 stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.”
Several people are credited with creating the Flag Day, starting in the late 19th century. A Wisconsin man named B.J. Cigrand proposed and helped organize a Flag Day celebration, according to the National Flag Day Foundation. Around the same time, New Yorker George Bolch held a ceremony of his own for Flag Day in 1889 and Elizabeth Duane Gillespie pushed for a similar observance in Pennsylvania in 1893. William Kerr has also been credited with launching the Flag Day movement with his 1888 establishment of the American Flag Day Association of Western Pennsylvania. Kerr reportedly spoke with Woodrow Wilson and inspired the U.S. president to issue a proclamation in 1916, calling for June 14 to be named Flag Day. Calvin Coolidge followed up with a proclamation of his own in 1927, as did Franklin Roosevelt in 1942. In 1949, Harry S. Truman finally signed a Congress-approved Flag Day into law.
“It is our custom to observe June 14 each year with ceremonies designed not only to commemorate the birth of our flag but also to rededicate ourselves to the ideals for which it stands,” Truman said in his proclamation. “This beloved emblem, which flies above all our people of whatever creed or race, signalizes our respect for human rights and the protection such rights are afforded under our form of government.”
Despite the passage of the First Flag Act in 1777, Flag Day was actually celebrated only 100 years later. Pennsylvania became the first state to celebrate Flag Day as a state holiday on June 14, 1937.
On this Flag Day, remember the origins of Old Glory, 240 years after its adoption. In 1915, Woodrow Wilson said: “For me, the flag does not express a mere body of vague sentiment. The flag of the United States has not been created by rhetorical sentences in declarations of independence and in bills of rights. It has been created by the experience of a great people, and nothing is written upon it that has not been written by their life. It is the embodiment, not of a sentiment but of a history.” The American flag has 13 stripes, representing the original 13 Colonies, and 50 stars, representing all of the states in the Union. 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. More than 20 years later — after concerns about having to keep adding stars and stripes — it was officially decided to just have 13 stripes (but to keep adding stars whenever another state joined).
Red represents hardiness and valor; white represents purity; and blue represents vigilance and justice.
New Jersey Rep. Francis Hopkinson, signer of the Declaration of Independence, designed the first American flag. However, because there is no sketch of a flag designed by Hopkinson in existence today, controversy continues to surround the exact origins of the flag’s design. Many still think Betsy Ross designed the flag, but historians have mostly discredited that belief.
This is a day of rallying around the flag in tribute to “Old Glory.” The rich history of the flag is iconic and the fluttering red and white stripes of our flag usher in the great songs, like the “Battle Hymn Republic,” to set the stage and salute our great nation. Cities across the United States have taken the turn, turning acts of vandalism, form of tagging and graffiti into American pop art.
All over the U.S. and the world, buildings and locations are fast becoming landmarks, by showing off patriotic murals. Waskom, Texas has its very own American Mural, which will be publicly dedicated on July 1, 2017, at 9:00 AM, with a grand celebration by Founder Bill Ledger, hosted in conjunction with city leaders, businesses and fun-filled family activities, with a planned performance by Waskom’s very own Hootens.
Known as the “Gateway To Texas”, Waskom is especially patriotic, enthusiastically joining the celebration of “Flag Day” with multiple flags flying high all over town.
Today, on June 14, 2017, the Army also celebrates its 242th birthday. June 14 is the day in 1775 when the Continental Congress voted to create the Continental Army during the American Revolution. Since its official establishment, June 14, 1775 — more than a year before the Declaration of Independence — the U.S. Army has played a vital role in the growth and development of the American nation. America would not be the land of the free, if it were not also the home of the brave.