We have flown our American flag ever since June 14, 1777 which began as a beautiful design including 13 white stars in a circle on a field of blue and 13 red and white stripes representing each state. This flag is rumored to have been requested by then General George Washington who paid a visit to patriotic icon Betsy Ross. Mrs. Ross was an official flag maker for the Pennsylvania Navy and was asked to create a flag for the new nation. General Washington and Congress devised the basic layout for the flag but it was Betsy Ross that suggested each star have only five points instead of the initially suggested six “because the cloth could be folded and cut out with a single snip.”
By 1795 the American flag had acquired two additional stars and stripes, totaling 15 of each, to represent the inclusion of Vermont and Kentucky into the Union. This flag was used for 23 years (even though five more states would join the Union during that time) and was the only flag to include over 13 stripes. It was this 15 star flag that was flown during the War of 1812 and inspired the writing of the National Anthem but was retired in the year of 1818 and our flag returned to it’s original 13 stripes.
Just because these flags existed does not mean that everyone observed them. It was the hard work and dedication of a 19 year old teacher named Bernard Cigrand that ultimately led to what we know as National Flag Day. Bernard first assigned essays to his pupils about the flag and its significance to them, creating awareness of the flag in his community, and later in June 1886 made a public proposal for the annual observance of the birth of the flag by writing an article called “The Fourteenth of June” in the Chicago Argus newspaper. His dreams were finally achieved when President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation for nationwide observance of the birth of the flag on June 14, 1916. However, it was not until August 1949 when President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress proclaiming June 14 as the official Flag Day.
The American flag has changed in design many times over the centuries and now consists of 13 stripes alternating in red and white to represent the 13 original colonies that became the first states in the Union. There is also a blue rectangle in the upper corner that contains 50 small, white, five-pointed stars to represent the 50 states in the United States.
Celebrate our National Flag Day by flying your American flag high, with pride. Get your children involved… there are a ton of fun, patriotic flag crafts that they can create! See some craft ideas here.
“One flag, one land, one heart, one hand, one nation, evermore.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes