Happy Birthday to the American Flag!

Still, Flag Day struggled for official recognition. It wasn’t until 1916 that President Woodrow Wilson issued a wishy-washy proclamation to “suggest and request. . . If possible” that people observe Flag Day.

Today, June 14th is Flag Day. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened 241 years ago on June 14, 1777, by resolution of the Second Continental Congress; “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.”

I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America
and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

This holiday had a very rough start. In 1861, at the beginning of the Civil War, a man named George Morris persuaded his city of Hartford, Conn., to undertake a patriotic celebration on behalf of the Union. But the concept didn’t catch on, there or elsewhere.

Decades later, in 1885, a 19-year-old Waubeka schoolteacher named Bernard Cigrand plunked a small flag into an inkwell on his desk and assigned his students to write essays on patriotism. Later he traveled the country to promote respect for the flag, becoming president of the American Flag Day Association.

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1888, William Kerr, son of a Civil War veteran, founded the American Flag Day Association of Western Pennsylvania, pressing presidents and legislators to make Flag Day official. In his hometown of Rennersdale, near Pittsburgh, a historical marker honors Kerr as the “Father of Flag Day.”

In 1889, New York City principal George Bolch had his school hold patriotic ceremonies to observe the day. State officials later expanded the program. In 1893, Elizabeth Duane Gillespie, head of the Colonial Dames of Pennsylvania, worked to have public buildings in Philadelphia display flags – an effort that led one federal office to credit Philadelphia as Flag Day’s original home.

American Flag, 1861

Still, Flag Day struggled for official recognition. It wasn’t until 1916 that President Woodrow Wilson issued a wishy-washy proclamation to “suggest and request. . . If possible” that people observe Flag Day. Thirty-three years later, in 1949, President Harry S. Truman signed an act passed by Congress naming Flag Day as June14th…

 

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