You’re a Grand Old Flag!
06/13/2016 Published by: Amy Soupene
There is no greater symbol of our country than the Stars and Stripes. We sing songs about it, we pledge our allegiance to it, and brave souls die for it. Yes, our flag is iconic and beloved. And June 14th is Flag Day. Did you realize that our flag has its own special day?
June 14th is also the birthday of the Army. That makes it a very special day, if you ask me!
So, how and why did Flag Day start? Let’s make this an interesting history lesson, shall we? We’ll start with some fun trivia to get your brain perking.
July 4, 1776 the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence. According to legend, George Washington wanted a symbol to celebrate our nation’s independence. Who did George Washington commission in 1776 to create that very first flag?
A: Martha Dandridge Custis
B. Betsy Ross
C. Dolly Madison
D. Little Debbie
Almost one year later, on June 14, 1777 the Continental Congress authorized the very first Stars and Stripes as our national symbol. The entry in the day’s journal was, “Resolved that the flag of the Thirteen United States be thirteen stripes alternate red and white: that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
Just 13 stars for thirteen states, our nation has certainly grown. Each time a state has been added to the union, our flag had to be adorned with more stars. Want to try to guess how many versions of the flag there have been thus far?
And just for fun, what state added that 50th star?
B. New Mexico
Okay, that’s enough for now! Please keep reading and I’ll have the answers posted at the end.
Getting back to our story, the flag become our official national symbol June 14, 1777 but then not much more was done until 1885. Our story leaves Philadelphia and picks up in a one-room schoolhouse in Waubeka, Wisconsin.
In Wisconsin there was a nineteen year-old school teacher by the name of Bernard John Cigrand at the Stony Hill School. In his classroom on June 14, 1885, he placed a 10” flag (which at that time had 38 stars) on his desk. Next, his students were given an assignment to write essays on what the flag meant to them.
Mr. Cigrand proclaimed June 14th as the flag’s birthday and dedicated his life to sharing with others its value and importance.
In the following years, Flag Day ceremonies, parades, and displays were implemented. On May 30, 1916 President Woodrow Wilson’s official Proclamation of the Flag Resolution of 1777 called for a nation-wide observance. This was a crowning achievement for Mr. Cigrand.
Fast forward to August 3, 1949 at which time President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress establishing June 14th as National Flag Day. Today, we celebrate Flag Day because so many cared so much about this proud symbol of our country. There are parades and celebrations in many communities, maybe something is planned in your neighborhood.
The next time you hear the National Anthem, stand tall, place your hand over your heart, and watch as others follow your lead. We have a strong nation and a beautiful flag because of courageous, patriotic citizens. Happy Flag Day, Y’all!
****answers to multiple questions:
1: B – Betsy Ross (bonus points for identifying Martha Dandridge Custis!)
2: C - 27
3: D – Hawaii
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