Tag Archives: June 14th

How to Celebrate National Flag Week


National Flag Week

June 14th of every year is set aside as Flag Day, a day when American flags adorn houses, streets and businesses around the country to commemorate the adoption of the first Stars and Strips by the Continental Congress in 1777.

Flags are a symbol of patriotism for many countries and cultures, and Americans are no different. Flags offer a symbol of unity and strength, of honor and loyalty. The flag of the United States of America stands for liberty and freedom, justice and loyalty. The Stars and Stripes are a patriotic reminder of our roots, our history and our future. As such, the American flag is both revered and feared throughout the world, as it stands for democracy, freedom and the pursuit of human rights. Flag Day has been celebrated as a national observance since 1949, when Congress approved a resolution that designated June 14th of every year as a day to observe and display the flag on all government buildings. In 1966, Congress requested that the week of June 14th be designated as National Flag Week, asking that all Americans fly their flags during the observed period of time.

The idea of celebrating a separate flag day was introduced in 1885 by a Wisconsin schoolteacher who felt that a birthday should be held to celebrate the 108th anniversary of the adoption of the Stars and Stripes as the flag of the United States of America. In 1894, New York’s governor directed that all public buildings fly the flag on the 14th of June, and in other states, organizations and groups promoted the idea of a period of official recognition for the ‘birthday’ of the American flag. In 1894, the first public schools to celebrate Flag Day were located in Chicago, with hundreds of thousands of school children honoring and saluting the flag. Three decades later, Flag Day was officially recognized by the Wilson presidential administration, which officially established a national observance in 1916, though it wasn’t until 1949 that President Truman’s administration signed an Act of Congress, which officially declared June 14th of every year as National Flag Day.

National Flag Week is also a time in which citizens throughout the country learn how to properly display and take care of their flags. Flags should be flown only between sunrise and sunset, but many people today leave their flags up all the time. During bad weather, the flag shouldn’t be left out unless it’s made of all-weather material. In addition, manners dictate that the flag should be raised quickly, though lowered slowly. No other flag should be flown above the American flag. Flags shouldn’t be allowed to touch the ground. On Memorial Day, Armistice Day, Peace Officers Memorial Week, and Patriot’s Day, flags should be flown at half-staff.

Proper disposal or retirement of flags should follow a time-honored procedure, and many local American Legion Posts will regularly conduct and offer both dignified and honorable disposal of worn or tattered flags on Flag Day. On most occasions, the flag disposal ceremony consists of the retirement of colors, followed by a traditional flag-burning ceremony in which many people from the community attend. It’s a somber observation, one ripe with tradition and a certain amount of pomp and ceremony.
National Flag Week is celebrated in every city, county and state within the United States and in Embassies around the world, a time when American traditions and ideals are observed and honored by millions. Nothing shows pride of country and unity in purpose as much as National Flag Week, a time when the red, white and blue can be seen in proud display.

Why We Celebrate Flag Day

Flag Day

The observance of Flag Day on every June 14th has been a tradition in the United States of America since 1777, when the first Continental Congress passed a resolution in Philadelphia that stated, “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.”

The stars were meant to represent a new constellation that had risen in the West, its idea taken from the constellation of Lyra, which signifies harmony. The blue was a color that symbolized resistance to oppression and the circled stars represented the idea of unending eternity. Of course, the thirteen stars designated each of the original thirteen colonies, and there are fifty in the field today, representing every state within America. The red in the flag represents defiance and daring, the white means purity. The first American flag was carried into battle during the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777, made by a woman named Betsy Ross at George Washington’s request.

The first official observance of the new flag of the United States of America didn’t occur until 1889, when a school principal in New York city decided the anniversary called for patriotic activities, and from that day on the Department of Education decided to have June 14th observed in all public schools. Thereafter, the Superintendent of Public Schools provided for the celebrations of both Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays, Memorial Day and Flag Day to be officially observed in schools throughout the nation. Early on, a special flag raising ceremony was accompanied by the singing of patriotic songs. The idea caught on. By 1897, the Governor of New York ordered a proclamation that all government buildings would fly the flag on June 14th, making it the first non-school event that quickly took the country by storm. Soon, most houses and buildings also flew the American flag every flag day, and citizens lined the streets with flags as well.

On Flag Day in 1917, President Woodrow Wilson made a speech that buttressed his decision to declare war on Germany, propelling the country into the First World War. In his speech, he said, “We meet to celebrate Flag Day because this flag which we honor and under which we serve is the emblem of our unity, our power, our thought and purpose as a nation.”

Flag Day has been celebrated every year since, and while it was never officially declared a national holiday, it is honored and observed by millions of Americans every year. The day is also celebrated with patriotic ceremonies in schools throughout the country, with singing, plays and recitation of famous speeches from ancestors and contemporaries alike. Every year on Flag Day, a ceremony is held in the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia, and the Patriotic Order of the Sons of America place a wreath on her grave in Mount Moriah Cemetery in that same city. Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops across the nation celebrate the day with special events and exercises that perpetuate the honor of the American flag, and many Boy Scout troops take part in ceremonies that retire old flags in dignity and replace them with new ones.

Since that first flag was sewn, billions have followed, and while the design of the American flag has undergone a few changes, mainly in the addition of stars as new states were added to the union, the colors remain true, as do their meaning. The American flag represents courage, freedom and democracy throughout the world, and is recognized instantly by foreign countries and citizens. Men and women continue to defend the American flag, sometimes with their lives, and Americans continue to honor both the flag and the sacrifices made to represent it.