Flag Day: A Celebration of the American Flag
Although Flag Day is observed on a smaller scale than neighboring patriotic holidays like Memorial Day and Independence Day, the observance has
its own rich history.
When the American Revolution broke out in 1775, the colonists were not fighting united under a single flag. Instead, most regiments participating in the war for independence against the British fought under their own flags. In June of 1775, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to create the Continental Army – a unified colonial fighting force – with the hopes of more organized battle against its colonial oppressors. This led to the creation of what was, essentially, the first “American” flag, the Continental Colors.
For some colonists, this flag, which was comprised of 13 red and white alternating stripes and a Union Jack in the corner, was too similar to the British flag. George Washington soon realized that flying a flag that was even remotely close to the British flag was not a great confidence-builder for the revolutionary effort, so he turned his efforts towards creating a new symbol of freedom for our soon-to-be fledgling nation.
On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress took a break from writing the Articles of Confederation and passed a resolution stating that “the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternating red and white,” and that “the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a constellation.”
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson declared June 14 as National Flag Day, proclaiming, “The Flag has vindicated its right to be honored by all nations of the world and feared by none who do righteousness.” On August 3, 1949, President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress recognizing the holiday of Flag Day and encouraging Americans to celebrate it.
For President Truman the concept of Flag Day was not only to celebrate its creation, but to acknowledge the ideals behind it.