The United States Army’s birthday is June 14, 1775, when the Continental Congress began enlisting riflemen to serve for one year. Interestingly, at the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the first flag of the United States was known as the Continental Colors flag. The Congress would not adopt a field of blue with white stars until the following year. The Stars and Stripes was officially adopted as the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777.
Star Spangled Banner, Stars and Stripes and Old Glory are all nicknames for the official American Flag. It is configured with 50 stars, representing the 50 states and 13 stripes, which represent the 13 British colonies that overcame the British Empire and established the United States.
The earliest mention of a celebration of Flag Day is from Hartford, CT in 1861. Victor Morris is credited for suggesting the term “Flag Day.” The town celebrated on June 14 in patriotic fashion and prayers were made for the Union. But this did not become a tradition.
It was in 1885 that Bernard J. Cigrand, a grade school teacher in Waubeka, Wisconsin, coordinated an observance with his students to observe the 108th birthday of the United States flag on June 14, 1885.
He continued to passionately promote the observance for years after that, calling the observance “Flag Birthday” or “Flag Day.” He moved to Chicago in 1886, where he published an article titled “The Fourteenth of June,” in which he promoted an annual observance of the birthday of the US flag.
George Bolch was a kindergarten teacher in New York City in 1889. He arranged a celebration of Flag Day for his students that year and soon the New York Sate Board of Education adopted the observance of Flag Day. In 1891 the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia held a celebration and the next year, the New York Society of the Sons of the Revolution celebrated Flag Day on June 14.
By 1893 the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames of America sent a resolution to the mayor of Philadelphia, requesting that all citizens display the flag on June 14. Two weeks after this, the Board of Managers of the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution endorsed the request of The Colonial Dames. This led to a directive from the Superintendent of Public Schools in Philadelphia that year to have school children assemble in Independence Square and enjoy a celebration of patriotism on Flag Day.
In 1894, the American Flag Day Association was established for the promotion of holding Flag Day celebrations. On June 14 of that year, the first public school celebration of Flag Day was held in Chicago, utilizing five public parks. 300,000 school children attended the celebration.
It wasn’t until May 30, 1916 with a proclamation from President Woodrow Wilson that Flag Day was officially established as the anniversary of the 1777 resolution. But it wasn’t until April 3, 1949 that President Truman signed an Act of Congress, designating June 14 as National Flag Day.
Flag Day is not an official federal holiday, however. The official statute regarding Flag Day states that it is at the President’s discretion to officially proclaim the observance, which President Donald Trump did on June 8, 2018.
So, what’s my point in all this history lesson? It is two-fold. First is to teach us all some history of our country that we probably did not know. I don’t remember ever hearing the history of Flag Day. Second is to encourage some good, old fashioned, red white and blue patriotism.
As we look at those who have gone before us, we should be inspired by what they fought for, died for and built for us to expand on. We should realize the great blessings of freedom that we have as the greatest nation in the world. The United States still stands as the bastion of freedom. People of the world still desire to come and live in a free land of opportunity.
It is our responsibility now to get a fresh breath of patriotism, recognize who we are as examples to the world, teach our young and be proud of the true history of our heritage. People literally die trying to obtain what we take for granted. Let’s be patriots again and thank God for this country that we are so blessed to live in.