Inspired by these 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.
The Fourth of July was traditionally celebrated as America's birthday, but the idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the Flag is believed to have first originated in 1885. BJ Cigrand, a schoolteacher, arranged for the pupils in the Fredonia, Wisconsin Public School, District 6, to observe June 14 (the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes) as 'Flag Birthday'. In numerous magazines and newspaper articles and public addresses over the following years, Cigrand continued to enthusiastically advocate the observance of June 14 as 'Flag Birthday', or 'Flag Day'.
Today, millions of Americans observe Flag Day by waving Old Glory outside their homes and businesses. Veteran's groups and sometimes whole communities also arrange civic functions and special ceremonies in honor of Flag Day.
As the legend goes, it was George Washington and two other members of the Continental Congress who asked Betsy Ross to sew the first American flag sometime in the late spring of 1776. The young widow was only in her early 20's when she completed the first flag with thirteen stars arranged in a circle.
A year later, the Continental Congress officially adopted the design for the national flag, and henceforward the Stars and Stripes symbolized the U.S. around the world.
The first "official" Flag Day was celebrated in 1877 - the flag's centennial. In 1916, a grass roots movement resulted in President Woodrow Wilson issuing a proclamation that called for a nationwide observance of Flag Day on June 14. Although still not an official holiday, Flag Day was made a permanent observance in America in 1949 by Congress who resolved "That the 14th day of June of each year is hereby designated as Flag Day."
Flag Day fun facts
Why red, white and blue? To the original members of the Continental Congress, red stood for hardiness and courage, white for purity and innocence, and blue for vigilance and justice.
Why thirteen stars and stripes? They represented the thirteen American colonies which rallied around the new flag in their fight against the British for self-governance.
The thirteen colonies included Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia.
To this day, thirteen stripes still commemorate the orginal colonies. Instead of thirteen stars, today the number of stars on the US flag has grown to 50, representing every state in the Union.
>Displaying the Flag Outdoors
When the flag is displayed from a staff projecting from a window, balcony, or a building, the union should be at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half staff.
When it is displayed from the same flagpole with another flag - of a state, community, society or Scout unit - the flag of the United States must always be at the top except that the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for Navy personnel when conducted by a Naval chaplain on a ship at sea.
When the flag is displayed over a street, it should be hung vertically, with the union to the north or east. If the flag is suspended over a sidewalk, the flag's union should be farthest from the building.
When flown with flags of states, communities, or societies on separate flag poles which are of the same height and in a straight line, the flag of the United States is always placed in the position of honor - to its own right.
The other flags may be smaller but none may be larger. No other flag ever should be placed above it.
The flag of the United States is always the first flag raised and the last to be lowered.
When flown with the national banner of other countries, each flag must be displayed from a separate pole of the same height. Each flag should be the same size. They should be raised and lowered simultaneously. The flag of one nation may not be displayed above that of another nation.
Raising and Lowering the FlagThe flag should be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously. Ordinarily it should be displayed only between sunrise and sunset. It should be illuminated if displayed at night.
The flag of the United States of America is saluted as it is hoisted and lowered. The salute is held until the flag is unsnapped from the halyard or through the last note of music, whichever is the longest,
Displaying the Flag Indoors
When on display, the flag is accorded the place of honor, always positioned to its own right. Place it to the right of the speaker or staging area or sanctuary. Other flags should be to the left.
1. The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of states, localities, or societies are grouped for display.
When one flag is used with the flag of the United States of America and the staffs are crossed, the flag of the United States is placed on its own right with its staff in front of the other flag.
When displaying the flag against a wall, vertically or horizontally, the flag's union (stars) should be at the top, to the flag's own right, and to the observer's left.
Parading and Saluting the Flag
When carried in a procession, the flag should be to the right of the marchers. When other flags are carried, the flag of the United States may be centered in front of the others or carried to their right. When the flag passes in a procession, or when it is hoisted or lowered, all should face the flag and salute.
To salute, all persons come to attention. Those in uniform give the appropriate formal salute. Citizens not in uniform salute by placing their right hand over the heart and men with head cover should remove it and hold it to left shoulder, hand over the heart. Members of organizations in formation salute upon command of the person in charge.
>The Flag in Mourning
To place the flag at half staff, hoist it to the peak for an instant and lower it to a position half way between the top and bottom of the staff. The flag is to be raised again to the peak for a moment before it is lowered. On Memorial Day the flag is displayed at half staff until noon and at full staff from noon to sunset.
The flag is to be flown at half staff in mourning for designated, principal government leaders and upon presidential or gubernatorial order.
When used to cover a casket, the flag should be placed with the union at the head and over the left shoulder. It should not be lowered into the grave.
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