Flag Day is celebrated on June 14 each year to honor the United States flag and to commemorate the flag’s adoption.
The following shares information about the history of Flag Day along with facts about "Old Glory".
Flag day commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day.
Flag Day is not an official federal holiday. It is at the President's discretion to officially proclaim the observance.
The week of June 14 is designated as "National Flag Week." During National Flag Week, the president will issue a proclamation urging U.S. citizens to fly the American flag for the duration of that week.
On June 14, 1937, Pennsylvania became the first U.S. state to celebrate Flag Day as a state holiday.
One of the longest-running Flag Day parades is held annually in Quincy, Massachusetts, which began in 1952, celebrating its 65th year in 2016.
The largest Flag Day parade is held annually in Troy, New York, which bases its parade on the Quincy parade and typically draws 50,000 spectators.
The National Flag Day Foundation holds an annual observance for Flag Day on the second Sunday in June. The program includes a ceremonial raising of the flag, recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, singing of the national anthem, a parade and more.
To learn more about the National Flag Day Foundation, visit their website.
The American flag has changed designs over the centuries. It consists of 13 equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton bearing 50 small, white, five-pointed stars.
Each of the 50 stars represent the 50 states in the United States, more on this in a moment. The 13 stripes represent the original 13 colonies that became the first states in the Union.
The flag has several nicknames including Old Glory, The Starts and Stripes, White and Blue and The Star-Spangled Banner.
Prior to Flag Day, neither the federal government nor the states had official guidelines governing the display of the United States' flag.
Today the United States Flag Code outlines certain guidelines for the use, display, and disposal of the flag. For example, the flag should never be dipped to any person or thing, unless it is the ensign responding to a salute from a ship of a foreign nation.
The flag should always be permitted to fall freely.
When the flag is affixed to the side of a vehicle of any kind (e.g.: cars, boats, planes, anything that moves), it should be oriented so that the canton is towards the front of the vehicle, as if the flag were streaming backwards from its hoist as the vehicle moves forward.
The flag should never be allowed to touch the ground and, if flown at night, must be illuminated.
If the edges become tattered through wear, the flag should be repaired or replaced. When a flag is so tattered that it can no longer serve as a symbol of the United States, it should be destroyed in a dignified manner, preferably by burning.
The American Legion and other organizations regularly conduct flag retirement ceremonies, often on Flag Day, June 14.
The flag should be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously.
Though not part of the official Flag Code, according to military custom, flags should be folded into a triangular shape when not in use.
Traditionally, the flag of the United States plays a role in military funerals, and occasionally in funerals of other civil servants (such as law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and U.S. presidents).
The flag is specifically authorized to be flown 24 hours a day at certain locations including: Fort McHenry, Flag House Square, Marine Corps War Memorial, Marine Corps War Memorial, White House, Lexington Battle Green, Washington Monument, Any port of entry to the United States which is continuously open and Grounds of the National Memorial Arch in Valley Forge State Park
The flag is also flown continuously by custom at the United States Capital Building and Taos Plaza, New Mexico.
The design has been modified multiple times since 1777. The 48-star flag was in effect for 47 years until the 49-star version became official on July 4, 1959. The 50-star flag was ordered by President Eisenhower on August 21, 1959.
The exact red, white, and blue colors to be used in the flag are specified with reference to the CAUS Standard Color Reference of America, 10th edition. Specifically, the colors are "White", "Old Glory Red", and "Old Glory Blue".
The flag did not appear on U.S. postal stamp issues until the Battle of White Plains Issue was released in 1926, depicting the flag with a circle of 13 stars.
Through the years, several songs have been written about or prominently feature the flag including "The Stars and Stripes Forever", "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "The Halls of Montezuma".
The next few slides chronicle the addition of stars and the states represented according to the Smithsonian.
13 stars - 1777 to 1795 Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey in 1787. Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia and New York in 1788.North Carolina in 1789 and Rhode Island in 1790.
15 stars - 1795 to 1818 Vermont was added in 1971 and Kentucky in 1792.
20 stars - 1818 to July 3, 1819 When the following states were added: Tennessee in 1796, Ohio in 1803, Louisiana in 1812, Indiana in 1816 and Mississippi in 1817.
21 stars - July 4, 1819 to July 3, 1820 For Illinois in 1818.
23 stars - July 4, 1820 to July 3, 1822 When Alabama in 1819 and Maine in 1820 were added.
24 stars - July 4, 1822 to July 3, 1836 When Missouri was added in 1821.
25 stars - July 4, 1836 to July 3, 1837 After Arkansas was added in 1836.
26 stars - July 4, 1837 to July 3, 1845 After Michigan was added in 1837.
27 stars - July 4, 1845 to July 3, 1846 After Florida was added in 1845.
28 stars - July 4, 1846 to July 3, 1847 After Texas was added in 1845.
29 stars - July 4, 1847 to July 3, 1848 After Iowa was added in 1846.
30 stars - July 4, 1848 to July 3, 1851 After Wisconsin was added in 1848.
31 stars - July 4, 1851 to July 3, 1858 After California was added in 1850.
32 stars - July 4, 1858 to July 3, 1859 After Minnesota was added in 1858.
33 stars - July 4, 1859 to July 3, 1861 After Oregon was added in 1859.
34 stars - July 4, 1861 to July 3, 1863 After Kansas was added in 1861.
35 stars - July 4, 1863 to July 3, 1865 After West Virginia was added in 1863.
36 stars - July 4, 1865 to July 3, 1867 After Nevada was added in 1864.
37 stars - July 4, 1867 to July 3, 1877 After Nebraska was added in 1867.
38 stars - July 4, 1877 to July 3, 1890 After Colorado was added in 1876.
43 stars - July 4, 1890 to July 3, 1891 After North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Washington were added in 1889 and Idahor was added in 1890.
44 stars - July 4, 1891 to July 3, 1896 After Wyoming was added in 1890.
45 stars - July 4, 1896 to July 3, 1908 After Utah was added in 1896.
46 stars - July 4, 1908 to July 3, 1912 After Oklahoma was added in 1907.
48 stars - July 4, 1912 to July 3, 1959 After New Mexico and Arizona were added in 1912.
49 stars - July 4, 1959 to July 3, 1960 After Alaska was added in 1959.
50 stars - July 4, 1960 to present After Hawaii was added in 1959.