This Tuesday, June 14, Americans celebrate the adoption of the first national flag. Also known as the “Stars and Stripes” or “Old Glory.”
On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, passed the Flag Act of 1777, a resolution creating an official flag for a new nation still struggling to gain its independence from Britain. It stated, in part, that America’s flag “…be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” And the design pretty much stayed that way for nearly two decades. The first significant change came in January 1794, when two stars and two stripes were added to reflect the recent admissions of Kentucky and Vermont to the Union. It was this 15-salthtar, 15-stripe flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem that later became known as the Star-Spangled Banner, after seeing it fly over Ft. McHenry during the War of 1812. In 1818, another design went into effect, permanently setting the number of stripes at 13 (in honor of the original colonies) and allowing for new stars to be added ceremonially each July 4 should a new state be admitted.
Inspired by three decades of state and local celebrations, Flag Day – the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777 – was officially established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30th, 1916. While Flag Day was celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson’s proclamation, it was not until August 3rd, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.
Take a moment to not only salute the Flag this Tuesday, but also to all those who have proudly and valiantly represented this flag over the past 241 years since we created this great country.