History of Flag Day

History of Flag Day

Although many countries celebrate a “Flag Day” in acknowledgement of their country’s best known emblem, the one that will be discussed is the American version. The Stars and Stripes are a well-known flag, after all, with versions changing throughout the years to reflect the number of states.

The original design for the flag was approved on June 14, 1777. Notably, at that time, although the resolution required the stripes as in today’s flag, and 13 white stars on a blue field, they did not specify any known arrangement. The most familiar 13 star design is the so called Betsy Ross flag, an arrangement of 13 5-pointed stars in a circle. The story of Betsy Ross, who was asked by Washington to create a flag, is widely disputed these days by historians, who believe that it is a story inflated by retelling over time.

The flag itself has led to many American traditions throughout the year, including the country’s national anthem. During the war of 1812, a lawyer, Francis Scott Key, was inspired by the site of an American flag still standing over Fort McHenry, which won a hard fought night battle against British troops. He penned a poem that day, and soon set it to a known British tune. This song, originally titled “Defense of Fort McHenry”, soon became known as the Star Spangled Banner. Although immediately popular, and built into military tradition, the anthem was not made officially the national song until 1931.

Flag Day itself was first proclaimed as a holiday by Woodrow Wilson in 1916, and was finally enacted as an official Day in 1949 by law. It is not considered a federal holiday, with no business closings. The day is placed at June 14 to match the original resolution of the flag’s design. As may be expected, the major symbol and decoration of Flag Day is the flag itself. The week of Flag Day traditionally has a proclamation from the government to display the American flag throughout. The country’s colors are also popular, being the symbol of Old Glory as well.

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