Editor’s Note: To mark Flag Day, we asked our friends at the Betsy Ross House to fill us in on the history of the holiday. Here is their post.
"The Birth of Old Glory" by Percy Moran
Flag Day is celebrated in America on June 14, commemorating the day the first flag resolution was passed.
On June 14, 1777, less than one year after Betsy Ross had received the order from General Washington to make the first flag, the Second Continental Congress passed a flag resolution stating:
Resolved, That the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.
The first national observance of Flag Day was on June 14, 1877; 100 years after the flag resolution was adopted by the Continental Congress.
In the late 19th century, schoolteachers all over the United States began conducting patriotic ceremonies commemorating Flag Day as a way to teach children about history. One such schoolteacher, Bernard J. Cigrand, is often referred to as the “Father of Flag Day.” He lobbied Congress for many years for Flag Day to be officially observed.
Other patriotic groups, including the Colonial Dames and the Sons of the American Revolution, also spent years trying to convince Congress to make Flag Day official. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation stating that June 14 shall be National Flag Day, and in 1949, it was made official by an Act of Congress.
On June 14, 1891, the Betsy Ross House began publicly celebrating Flag Day, and has been celebrating Flag Day every year since 1911. Since 2008, the Betsy Ross House has revived the patriotic zeal of the earliest celebrations with Flag Fest – an all day, old-fashioned, family fun street fair with games, live entertainment, a patriotic pet contest, shopping and more, celebrated on the Saturday before Flag Day.
For more information: www.betsyrosshouse.org/hist_flag/day.html