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Flag Day June 14

Flag Day is Friday, June 14, 2024.  By: Catherine Boeckmann

What is Flag Day all about? Who really designed the first flag, and what do the red, white, and blue colors symbolize? See how much you know about U.S. flag history and meaning, plus find five fun trivia questions to test your knowledge.

What is Flag Day?

Flag Day is a celebration of the American flag that occurs each year on June 14, the anniversary of the flag’s official adoption. 

What we know fondly as the “Stars and Stripes” was adopted by the Continental Congress as the official American flag on June 14, 1777, during the Revolutionary War. Colonial troops fought under many different flags with various symbols—rattlesnakes, pine trees, and eagles—and slogans—”Don’t Tread on Me,” “Liberty or Death,” and “Conquer or Die,” to name a few.

The Declaration of Independence made the adoption of an American flag necessary. Previously, each colony or special interest had its own flag. 

On that 14th of June, Congress made the Flag Resolution of 1777, stating: “The flag of the United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white, with a union of thirteen stars of white on a blue field …” Official announcement of the new flag was not made until Sept. 3, 1777.

Flag Day has been celebrated as a patriotic occasion for many decades, but President Woodrow Wilson made the observance official on May 30, 1916, by a presidential proclamation. 

Who Made the First American Flag?

The origins of the Stars and Stripes have become part of American folklore. Although many people believe that Betsy Ross designed and sewed the first flag, there is no true proof of this. 

However, records do indicate that Betsy Ross most definitely made ensigns and pennants for the Philadelphia Navy during the war, and she certainly inspired the design of the current flag.

Based on colonial folklore, it has also been stated that the American flag was first flown in battle during the Revolutionary War at the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge in 1777. This may also be the stuff of legend.

However, what we do know is this: 

  • The original 1777 flag was designed to represent the 13 original colonies. It had 13 white stars on a blue field and 13 alternating red and white stripes. 
  • One of the first flag designs had the stars arranged in a circle, based on the idea that all colonies were equal.
  • In 1818, after a few design changes, the United States Congress decided to retain the flag’s original 13 stripes and add new stars to reflect each new state that entered the union.
  • Each time a state was added to the union, a star was added. Today, there are 50 stars, one for each state in the union, but the 13 stripes remain.

Interestingly, the current American flag was designed by a high school student from Lancaster, Ohio, named Bob G. Heft! Even though Bob’s history teacher gave him a “B-” for not knowing how many states the Union had, Bob submitted his design to the White House (unprompted) in anticipation of Hawaii and Alaska joining the Union. To his surprise, President Eisenhower called him! Today, it’s Bob Heft’s 1958 design—which shows 50 stars in a field that included five rows of six stars and four rows of five stars—which is now our 50-star American flag (and history teacher changed his grade to an “A”!).

When Is Flag Day?

Flag Day, celebrated annually on June 14, is not an official federal holiday, but the president of the United States traditionally proclaims its observance each year. On Flag Day, many towns and cities hold parades and events to celebrate the flag, and the colors are to be flown at all government buildings.


Historical Facts About the U.S. Flag

  • January 1, 1776: The first United States flag, the “Grand Union,” was displayed by George Washington. It became the unofficial national flag, preceding the 13-star, 13-stripe version.
  • June 14, 1777: The Stars and Stripes were adopted by the Continental Congress as the Flag of the United States.
  • June 14, 1877: Flag Day was observed nationally for the first time on the 100th anniversary of the Stars and Stripes—and continues today. 
  • June 14, 1937: Pennsylvania became the first state in the United States to celebrate Flag Day officially as a state holiday.
  • July 4, 1960: The new 50-star flag was flown for the first time—the flag that still flies today.


Why is the American Flag Red, White, and Blue?

The Continental Congress left no record as to why it chose these colors. However, in 1782, the Congress of the Articles of Confederation chose the colors for the Great Seal of the United States with these meanings:

  • white for purity and innocence
  • red for valor and hardiness
  • blue for vigilance, perseverance, and justice

According to the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, the colors originated with the British flag, which is called the Union Jack and was a combination of the Scottish cross of St. Andrew (white on blue) and the English cross of St. George (red on white) at the time. (The modern British flag also incorporates the Irish cross of St. Patrick into its design.)


American Flag Etiquette

Did you know that there are special rules for taking care of our flag? The U.S. Flag Code is an official set of guidelines (not laws) that dictates how a flag should be flown in order to show it the respect and honor that it deserves. Learn all about American Flag Etiquette here and hoist the flag this Flag Day!


Where May the American Flag be Flown 24 Hours a Day?

The flag is usually taken indoors at night out of respect, but there are some places where flying the flag around the clock is permissible. Do you think you can guess them?

  1. The Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia
  2. The White House
  3. The U.S. Capitol
  4. The Iwo Jima Memorial to U.S. Marines in Arlington, Virginia
  5. The Revolutionary War battleground in Lexington, Massachusetts
  6. The site of George Washington’s winter encampment at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania
  7. Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland
  8. The Jenny Wade House in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (Jenny Wade was the only civilian killed in the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War)
  9. The USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor
  10. All customs points of entry into the United States
  11. Any US Navy ship that is underway


In truth, the flag may be flown at night anywhere that it may be flown during the day, provided that it is properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.

5 Flag Trivia Questions

Quiz your friends and family with these five flag questions and answers:

  1. Is it ever appropriate to fly the flag upside down? Answer: Yes, but only in an emergency. It means “Help Me! It’s an emergency! Call the police! I am in dire trouble and need immediate help!”
  2. How many versions of the American flag have been designed? There have been 27 versions of the American Flag. However, the current flag—designed by a high school boy—has lasted the longest as no states have been added since 1959.
  3. Can the flag touch the ground? Despite the myths, the flag can touch the ground and still be washed and used. However, if the flag is torn or damaged beyond repair, the tradition is to burn it with dignity. Most U.S. localities offer this service at no fee. 
  4. How many U.S. flags made it to the Moon? The U.S. flag has been placed on the Moon by an astronaut during six Apollo missions (11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17).
  5. Why must Old Glory be folded in such a specific way? The U.S. flag is folded into a small triangle made of 13 folds. Each fold has a special meaning and symbolism. For example, the first fold represents life, while the third honors the veteran who has departed, and the fifth is a tribute to our country. See the correct way to fold the American flag.

Next time you gaze upon the symbol of the nation’s freedom, pause and reflect on the flag’s origins, symbolism, and history—and what the American flag means in your life.

More Patriotic Holidays

Flag Day is just one of many patriotic celebrations in the United States. Learn about George Washington’s birthday in our article on Presidents’ Day, and don’t forget to catch up on your Independence Day history before July 4!

Link to orginal article

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