What you should know about Flag Day this Friday

Darian Graivshark
Marines prepare to raise the American flag at Parris Island.

Friday, June 14, is Flag Day.

Typically, Americans celebrate America’s birthday on the Fourth of July. However, on June 14, 1885 a schoolteacher named BJ Cigrand arranged for the students at Wisconsin Public School in Fredonia to observe this date to celebrate the Flag. He would call this day 'Flag Birthday' or 'Flag Day.'

Another person who wanted to take part in the celebration in 1889 was George Balch. Balch, too was a schoolteacher for kindergarteners in New York City. However, Balch planned ceremonies for the children to take part in at the school for Flag Day.

It was not until June 14, 1891 that Flag Day observing was adopted by the State Board of Education in New York. On this day in that year, the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia had their own Flag Day celebration. The following year, the New York Sons of the Revolution society celebrated the Flag Day, too.

On April 25, 1893 the mayor of Philadelphia was requested by the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames of America to display the Flag on June 14. This was suggested by Colonel J. Granville Leach.

Afterwards, Leach continued on and recommended that the day be known as Flag Day. The action by the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames was unanimously endorsed by the Board of Managers of the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolution two weeks later, on May 8.

This encouraged the Superintendent of public schools in Philadelphia, Edward Brooks, to encourage Flag Day practices. The practices would occur in Independence Square.

Then, in 1894, the governor of New York directed American Flags be displayed on all public buildings on June 14. The first general public school children's celebration of Flag Day occurred in Chicago cities, including Douglas, Garfield, Humboldt, Lincoln, and Washington Parks.

On May 30, 1916 Flag Day was officially established by a Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson. It wasn’t until August 3, 1949 that President Truman signed an Act of Congress, which designates June 14 as National Flag Day each year.

How did the flag evolve?

On June 14, 1777 Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act, which stated, "Resolved, that the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation."

On January 13, 1794 it was provided that there be 15 stripes and 15 stars after May 1795.

On April 4, 1818, 13 stripes and one star for each state would be added to the flag on the Fourth of July, following the admission of each new state, which was signed by President Monroe.

On June 24, 1912, President Taft, by Executive Order, stated that portions of the flag, and provided for arrangement of the stars in 6 horizontal rows of eight each, with a single point of each star pointing upward.

President Eisenhower on January 3, 1959 stated that the stars would be arranged in seven rows of seven stars each, staggered horizontally and vertically.

Eisenhower again, on August 21, 1959, stated the stars would be arranged in nine rows staggered horizontally and eleven rows of stars staggered vertically.

America's flag has come a long way, and it is important that we treat it with the care that our predecessors did before us.

There is also a United States flag code, which can be read here: http://www.usflag.org/uscode36.html.

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