Flag Day, held on June 14th every year, is set aside for Americans to commemorate the American flag. The flag was adopted on this day, which also marks the Army’s birthday. The holiday is part of National Flag Week, which celebrates freedom.
The American flag has long been a symbol of freedom and American ideals. Flag Day is reserved to celebrate loyalty, unity, and to contemplate the values of liberty and justice. The main tradition is the display the American Flag, often with flag-raising ceremonies. Other events include educational programs, musical concerts, salutes, parades, and awards. Many events are organized by the National Flag Day Foundation, a group striving to keep the traditions of the American flag going. After flag day is a 21 period that celebrates America, lasting until Independence Day. All government buildings must fly the American flag on this holiday.
The oldest running Flag Day parade has taken place in Fairfield, Washington since 1909 or the year after. Another significant celebration is Quincy, Massachusetts’s parade, running since 1952. The largest parade takes place in Troy, New York, drawing around 50,000 spectators annually. Philadelphia’s ceremony happens at the Betsy Ross House.
However, some groups protest the holiday and hold counter-celebrations, including Native American groups who have felt that they have not received the ideals, such as freedom and liberty, which the holiday promotes.
Betsy Ross is believed to be the producer of the flag that replaced British flags on June 14, 1777. Ross, from Philadelphia, was the seamstress of the Pennsylvania Navy. This first flag had 13 red and white stripes and thirteen white stars on a patch of blue. Stars were added as states were admitted into the Union, but the number of stripes was kept the same due to space restrictions, instead serving to honor the original 13 colonies.
Flag Day was first suggested by a Connecticut citizen, George Morris, in 1861. Hartford then held a Flag Day, but the tradition stopped there. Next, schoolteacher Bernard J. Cigrand held a Flag Day celebration at Stony Hill School in Wisconsin. Cigrand continued to campaign for a flag day, “establishing” the day in articles and speeches. He became the president of the American Flag Day Association and is considered the “Father of Flag Day.” Cigrand said that he gave 2,188 speeches, most of them having to do with the American Flag.
President Wilson made a proclamation in 1916, but President Truman made the holiday official in 1949. Every year, the President issues a proclamation asking citizens to observe the holiday.