Flag Day is celebrated every June 14. It is a Federal holiday that passes with little comment. New London’s main street is carefully decorated with flags. Everyone enjoys seeing them wave in the breeze, but few know why. The history of Flag Day observance does not contain an actual start date, place and time. President Wilson and President Coolidge both issued proclamations designating June 14 as Flag Day, but it wasn’t until 1949 that Congress passed the bill making the day a national observance and President Harry Truman signed the bill. One hundred and seventy-two years had passed since the flag was first flown in battle in September of 1777 in the battle of Brandywine.
In 1777, the Continental Congress passed a resolution describing the proper design of the flag. This resolution passed on June 14. The resolution stated:
That the flag of the United States shall be of
thirteen stripes of alternate red and white,
with a union of thirteen stars of white in a blue field,
representing the new constellation.
When Captain Paul Jones sailed the Ranger into a French port in 1778, the Stars and Stripes was saluted by foreign naval ships for the first time. It then flew over a foreign territory at Nassau, Bahama Islands when the Americans captured the British fort there. Unbelievably, Americans did not observe the adoption of the flag for nearly a century.
Claims of being the first to observe Flag Day are shared by Connecticut, New York and Philadelphia. Most historians recognize New York’s from 1889. The principal, George Bolch, had his free kindergarten for the poor hold a patriotic ceremony to observe the anniversary of Flag Day. New York legislature soon passed a law requiring the state superintendent of school to make sure all the schools held observances with the flag for Lincoln’s Birthday, Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day and Flag Day. Soon the Governor of New York ordered the flag displayed over all public buildings. William T. Kerr has been credited with getting Flag Day declared a national holiday.
There were many people who worked diligently for many years to ensure that Flag Day is observed nationwide. The disputes over who, where and when are not nearly as important as the observance. Flying the flag properly and recognizing its importance is crucial.
Source: US Department of Veteran Affairs: