The flag of the United States of America offers powerful imagery. We view it with a certain superiority when hoisted above the heads of our medal-winning Olympic athletes. We understand the sacrifices it represents when it’s draped over the coffin of a fallen soldier. We may look with a curious glance when we see some semblance of the flag in commercials or on apparel.
The United States has long had a love affair with the “American flag.” Whether as a symbol of national pride or a marketing tool, the flag is ubiquitous in our culture today. So it’s a good thing that this emblem has its own holiday: National Flag Day on June 14.
For many of us, it seems the current flag of the United States is the one that has always waved gallantly over government buildings and from front porches across the country. But the current incarnation with 50 white stars was adopted on July 4, 1960.
As we learned in elementary school, the flag had its official start on June 14, 1777. The Continental Congress adopted the original design of our national symbol when it resolved 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.”
As the country grew, more stars were added to the original 13. Known as “Old Glory,” “Stars and Stripes,” or even taking the name of the national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner,” the flag reached 48 stars in 1912. The 48-star flag was official for 47 years.
While we certainly love the flag, its birth hasn’t always been celebrated. To honor the centennial of the original flag resolution, on June 14, 1877, Congress instructed that the U.S. flag be flown from all public buildings. A few years later a young Wisconsin schoolteacher named Bernard J. Cigrand began promoting the idea of national Flag Day observances.
President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation in 1916 calling for a nationwide observance of Flag Day, but it wasn’t until 1949 that an Act of Congress signed by President Harry Truman designated June 14 as National Flag Day.
With Memorial Day coming before and Independence Day afterward, we will see many flags standing tall across the nation during the month of June. Many may not know the story of how it came to have its own day but we all recognize its symbolism. We know it signifies hope, freedom, strength. And like the phrase originally associated with Superman, it represents “truth, justice, and the American way.”
Join Paralyzed Veterans of America and other Americans across the country June 14 in honoring the birthday of the US flag. Serving the needs of veterans with spinal cord injury or dysfunction since 1946, Paralyzed Veterans is dedicated to ensuring that our heroes get the help and support they need to rebuild their lives following life-altering injuries.
Share Your Flag: Share your American flag photo using the hashtag #capturetheflag and #FlagDay on Facebook and tag us: www.facebook.com/ParalyzedVeterans. On Twitter, tag us in your tweet: @PVA1946. Share your #capturetheflag and #FlagDay photos on Instagram too! You can find us at www.instagram.com/pva1946.
Flag Etiquette: http://www.usflag.org/flagetiquette.html
Flag Folding: http://www.usflag.org/foldflag.html
Rules for Display: http://www.usa-flag-site.org/etiquette-display.shtml
Learn more about Paralyzed Veterans of America