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Flag Day: How Much Do You Know?

Flag Day: How Much Do You Know?

When Is Flag Day?

June 14 is Flag Day, a day of national observance for all Americans, but it is not a federal holiday. Each year, the President proclaims the commemoration and encourages all Americans in the country to display the flag outside their homes and businesses. Usually during Flag Day, the flag is flown from all public buildings, speeches are made in public places, and ceremonies take place in towns or cities.

A Little Flag Day History

While many of us learned that Betsy Ross, a seamstress from Philadelphia, was the designer of the flag, this legend has been discredited. According to many sources, President George Washington did visit Betsy in Philadelphia but had brought a flag design with him that contained 13 red and white stripes and 13 six-pointed stars set in a circle. Accordingly, the only thing Ms. Ross suggested about the flag was to use five-pointed stars (mullets) rather than six-pointed ones (estoiles).  Many credit Betsy Ross for sewing one of the first US flags made out of wool bunting, but historians cannot confirm if she actually made the first flag ever.

Some credit Francis Hopkinson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, with the design of the original flag. Hopkinson himself felt that he was the designer and should be compensated for it by Congress, but Congress argued that many were responsible for the design so he was never paid.

Whomever really designed the flag, it is known that on June 14, 1777, the design with the stars and stripes became America’s official flag with this declaration by Congress: “The flag of the United States will be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white [and]…the union [canton] be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

Stars and Stripes

As more states entered the Union more stars were added to the flag. In 1818, Congress passed the Flag Act, stipulating that the flag will always have 13 stripes (one for each of the original colonies) and that a star will be added for each new state on July 4 only.  As you can surmise, the flag changed frequently in the beginning, but hasn’t since the 49th and 50th stars for Alaska and Hawaii were added in 1959.

Flag Day Trivia

In honor of Flag Day, here are a few interesting pieces of trivia about our great Red, White, and Blue:

  • When is it appropriate to fly the flag upside down? The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
  • A vexillologist is an expert in the history of flags.

Trivia from USHistory.org

Learn about flag etiquette and the Flag Code here.

Happy Flag Day!

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  • Penny Koller says:

    Wow! Such great comments from everyone! To “Pit”, I have to agree with you whole-heartedly about our younger generation. And Kudos to you, to have the same and long standing friends you graduated with and work with! You are very fortunate, young man or woman!!!! That does not happen to almost 99% of us working!!!!!

    Happy Flag Day!!!! Also, my sister-n-law’s Birthday!!!! What a Celebration!!!!

  • Earl P. Williams, Jr. says:

    Scholars no longer accept the claim that Betsy Ross or George Washington had anything to do with the first Stars and Stripes flag. The Ross claim is based on uncorroborated and very inaccurate Ross family lore that did not surface until the 1870s — a century after the Revolution. (1) Betsy Ross actually made “ship’s colours” for the Pennsylvania navy during the Revolution. The “ship’s colours” consisted of blue ensigns (naval flags) and long, thin red ship’s pennants. After the War, Mrs. Ross and her family business did make U.S. flags for 50 years. And it is true that Mrs. Ross made five-pointed stars with one snip of the scissors. For further details, see the Wikipedia article on Betsy Ross. (2) General Washington and the Army had nothing to do with creating the Stars and Stripes because it was a naval concern. Continental Congressman Francis Hopkinson of New Jersey designed two Stars and Stripes flags: (a) one for the United States with 7 white stripes and 6 red stripes and (b) one for the U.S. Navy with the opposite — 7 red stripes and 6 white stripes for better visibility at sea. Ironically, Hopkinson’s naval flag became the preferred National flag. The Continental Marine Committee sponsored the U.S. Flag Resolution that Congress adopted on June 14, 1777 (Flag Day). The Marine Committee oversaw maritime affairs. Hopkinson was a member of the Marine Committee in the Fall of 1776 but stepped down from it to run the U.S. Navy as Chairman of the Continental Navy Board in Philadelphia. Today, that position would be called the Secretary of the Navy. The Navy Board reported to the Marine Committee. Francis Hopkinson was running the Navy on June 14, 1777. For more details, see the Wikipedia article on Francis Hopkinson. Earl P. Williams, Jr., U.S. flag historian (paleovexillologist)

  • Jozy says:

    The flag we see everywhere, is actually our “Military” flag, and it should NOT be flown in any kind of “personal” place or situation. Your home for instance .The Military flag has gold fringe on it. Our peaceful flag looks a lot different : there are 13 red/wht. VERTICLE stripes, with field of stars in upper left corner. You can view by searching : United States Peace flags, or our real national Peacetime flag. (no gold fringe on it) Nice page BTW. You always have interesting facts & stories in your mag/web site. I’ve let me subscription lapse, but will update ASAP. I enjoy reading it. Thanks , Jozy

  • Penny says:

    Pit, I have to comment on your remarks, they were incredible to Read! You are so correct about the newer and younger generations, they need to know this history and be proud of the Free Country they live in today! And one more item. You are so fortunate to have friends and co-workers till this day at the same job you all started from- you must have one very Cool Job! Please let us know where you work so we can compliment them too!

  • Lauren Ayers says:

    “As you can surmise, the flag changed frequently in the beginning, but hasn’t since the 49th and 50th stars for Alaska and Hawaii were added in 1959.”
    This is incorrect as the star for Hawaii was not added until 1960, being it received state hood after the 4th of July 1959

  • Steve says:

    The flag is a symbol for a greater thing. It represents all we strive for and have sacrificed for as a nation. It has meaning. It is not a decoration. The rules are there to ensure we treat it with the honor it deserves.

  • Pit says:

    Thank you for such a cool story. I think that the day of the flag should be made a federal holiday and then people will always remember this holiday. I think this is a very important day in the history of the United States and this day should be remembered by the people. Now every year, new generations are less and less aware of the history of their country … I remember that when I was at the university, my friends and I always celebrated this day, by the way, we are still friends and work on the same job – https://wedoessay.com

  • If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

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