By Darryl Alder
Jun 14, 2015

238 Years of Old Glory—Celebrate Flag Day 2015

Today the US Flag is 238 years old. We celebrate its birthday with what has become a minor holiday every June 14: Flag Day.  However, in our Utah Valley community, this day launches a celebration lasting weeks with the Fourth of July smack in the middle and Pioneer Day capping off the festivities. Flag Day is no minor celebration here!

betsy ross

According to “On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress replaced the British symbols of the Grand Union flag with a new design featuring 13 white stars in a circle on a field of blue and 13 red and white stripes—one for each state. Although it is not certain, this flag may have been made by the Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross, who was an official flag maker for the Pennsylvania Navy. The number of stars increased as the new states entered the Union, but the number of stripes stopped at 15 and was later returned to 13.”

Flag Day started with a few public schools in the 1800s and, of course, is surrounded with patriotic lore like the making of the first flag by Betsy Ross.  In June 1886 Bernard Cigrand made a proposal for an annual observance to commemorate the birth of the flag in an article he wrote in the Chicago Argus newspaper titled “The Fourteenth of June.”  Over time, states adopted the holiday and more and more celebrations sprung up.  In 1914, Franklin K. Lane, then secretary of the interior, delivered a speech on Flag Day, saying the flag had told him: “I am what you make me, nothing more. I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of color, a symbol of yourself.”

Two years later, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling for a nationwide observance of the event on June 14, 1916 which memorialized the holiday Nationwide. However, with all that, Flag Day did not become official until August 1949, when President Harry Truman signed the legislation and proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day. In 1966, Congress also requested that the President issue annually a proclamation designating the week in which June 14 occurs as National Flag Week. Since that time, each year the President has issued a proclamation to: “call on government officials in the USA to display the flag of the United States on all government buildings on Flag Day; and to urge US residents to observe Flag Day as the anniversary of the adoption on June 14, 1777, by the Continental Congress of the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the United States.”


The American flag, also called “Old Glory” or “star-spangled banner,” has changed in design over the years. In fact that “star-spangled banner” that flew over Fort McHenry, had fifteen stripes and stars. By 1820, with new states in the union, the strips had been reduced back to the original 13 with equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton bearing 50 small, white, five-pointed stars. Today, each of the 50 stars represents one of the 50 states in the United States and the 13 stripes represent the original 13 colonies that became the first states in the Union.

What do people do?

According to

Historical Flags posted at the Alder home

Historical Flags posted at the Alder home

Flag Day falls within National Flag Week, a time when Americans reflect on the foundations of the nation’s freedom. The flag of the United States represents freedom and has been an enduring symbol of the country’s ideals since its early days. During both events, Americans also remember their loyalty to the nation, reaffirm their belief in liberty and justice, and observe the nation’s unity.

Many people in the United States honor this day by displaying the American flag at homes and public buildings. Other popular ways of observing this holiday include: flag-raising ceremonies; Flag Day services; school quizzes and essay competitions about the American flag; musical salutes; street parades; and awards for special recognition.

Organizations such as The National Flag Day Foundation are actively involved in coordinating activities centered on the event and keeping the flag’s traditions alive. Following Flag Day is Honor America Days, a 21-day period through to Independence Day (July 4) to honor America. During this period, people hold public gatherings and activities to celebrate and honor the nation.

What does your family do?

People across the United States celebrate Flag Day on June 14 each year to honor the United States flag and to commemorate the flag’s adoption. On the same day, the United States Army celebrates its birthday. Flag Day, and the lead up to it, is a great way to educate the whole Scout family about the care and keeping of the flag and to lead out in celebrations of many kinds. For example, I have always been fascinated by flag history, so at the Alder household we post historical flags begining that day through Pioneer day.

We want to know what you do to begin this patriotic season; tell us in the comment section below.

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