Flag Day 2018: What is it and why do we celebrate it?

Flag Day 2018: What is it and why do we celebrate it?
Posted at 5:50 AM, Jun 14, 2017
and last updated 2018-06-13 12:57:26-04

The Fourth of July was traditionally celebrated as America's birthday, but there is another holiday that has many American's sporting red, white and blue. Flag Day originated in 1949 when President Harry S. Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14 of each year as National Flag Day.

Why is Flag Day celebrated?

Flag Day commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on June 14, 1777. During the American Revolution, the Second Continental Congress adopted a resolution stating that “the flag of the United States be thirteen alternate stripes red and white” and that “the Union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”

History behind the stars and stripes

The resolution stated, "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."

There was no indication as to how many points the stars should have. The resolution also failed to specify how the stars should be arranged on the blue union. 

The history behind Flag Day

The Stars and Stripes first flew in a Flag Day celebration in the year 1861 in Hartford, Connecticut. This was during the first summer of the Civil War. 

By the mid 1890's, Flag Day was a popular event. Mayors and governors began to issue proclamations in their jurisdictions in celebration of Flag Day.

Schools were the first to become involved in flag activities in order to stimulate patriotism among the young. Additionally, numerous patriotic societies and veterans groups became identified with the Flag Day movement. 

Flag Day, the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777, was officially established when President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling for a nationwide observance of Flag Day on May 30, 1916. 

“The things that the flag stands for were created in experiences of a great people. Everything that it stands for was written by their lives. The flag is the embodiment, not of sentiment but of history. It represents the experiences made by men and women, those who do and live under the flag,” President Wilson said in his Flag Day Address on June 14, 1915.

"I therefore suggest and request that throughout the nation and if possible in every community the fourteenth day of June be observed as Flag Day with special patriotic exercises," the proclamation stated.

Despite President Wilson's efforts, it was not until August 3, 1949 that Congress made this day a permanent observance when Flag Day was signed into law by President Truman.

Is Flag Day a federal holiday? 

No. However, Americans everywhere continue to honor the history and patriotism that the day represents. Although it is not a federal holiday, Flag Day is considered a state holiday in New York and Pennsylvania.