“Hurrah for the flag of the free! May it wave as our standard forever.” – Stars & Strips Forever by John Philip Sousa
June 14 is Flag Day! In honor of the occasion, here are 13 facts about the flag of the United States, one fact for each stripe on the flag (which represents the nation’s first 13 colonies).
1. My tween asked yesterday why Flag Day is observed on June 14. I had her look it up. Turns out that the Second Continental Congress first approved a national flag on June 14, 1777.
2. The idea of Flag Day is believed to have first originated in 1885 in Fredonia, Wisconsin when a school teacher began celebrating Flag Birthday.
3. Flag Day did not become official, however, until 1916. That year, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that established a nationwide observance of Flag Day on June 14.
4. The colors of Old Glory have meaning. Red stands for hardiness and valor. White symbolizes purity and innocence. Blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.
5. Speaking of Old Glory, Captain William Driver, a shipmaster of Salem, Massachusetts, coined that term in 1831 after some friends presented him with a 10-by-17-foot flag. At that point, there were twenty-four stars on our national banner.
- The flag should be displayed from sunrise to sunset. If the flag is displayed at night it should be illuminated.
- Never allow the flag to touch the ground or the floor.
- When displayed on a wall or window the blue field should be in the upper left corner.
- The flag should be raised quickly and lowered ceremoniously.
7. There are exceptions to the sunrise/sunset rule, though. The U.S. flag is flown 24 hours a day by either presidential proclamation or law at select locations, including:
- Fort McHenry, National Monument and Historic Shrine, Baltimore, MarylandFlag House Square, Baltimore, Maryland
- United States Marine Corps Memorial (Iwo Jima), Arlington, Virginia
- On the Green of the Town of Lexington, Massachusetts
- The White House, Washington, D.C.
- United States Customs Ports of Entry
- Grounds of the National Memorial Arch in Valley Forge State Park, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania
8. In 1909, Robert Peary placed a flag at the North Pole. His wife had sewn that flag. He also left pieces of another flag along the way. It is the only time a person has been honored for cutting the flag.
9. That’s not the only interesting location of the American flag. There are 6 American flags on the moon. They were planted by crews from Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17.
10. Many sources I checked would not definitively say that Betsy Ross was officially the one who made the first flag. PBS says, “While no one knows the exact origin of the first American flag, some historians believe it was designed by Congressman Francis Hopkinson and sewn by Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross.” Did you know that was up for debate?
11. 95% of American flags are manufactured in the United States.
12. The military folds the flag with 13 folds, each with symbolic meaning.
13. Flag Day is observed nationwide, but Pennsylvania is the only state that recognizes it as a legal holiday.
We started our day by putting out our flag and lining our walk with smaller flags. Then we had red, white and blue pancakes. Do you have an plans for Flag Day?
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