​Celebrate Flag Day with the Story Behind an American Institution


On June 14th, it’s time to celebrate Flag Day here in the United States once again. That’s the anniversary of the day we officially adopted the stars and stripes as the banner of our country.

Unlike President’s Day or Martin Luther King Day, Flag Day isn’t recognized as a federal holiday. However, many patriotic people choose to plan a celebration regardless, and rightly so.

What’s the real story behind Flag Day? Why do we celebrate it, and what are some appropriate ways to honor the occasion, if we wish? Let’s take a closer look at the significance of the day, as well as some great ideas to honor it.

The Origins of the American Flag and Its Meaning

These days, it’s hard to picture an image more symbolic of American patriotism than the United States flag, waving majestically in the breeze. However, the stars and stripes weren’t necessarily synonymous with patriotism when our flag first came into existence in 1777.

When the Second Continental Congress passed the Flag Resolution in June, 1777, the Continental Army at the Middlebrook encampment became the first place to raise the flag later that month.

Naturally, people were patriotic during the days of the American Revolution, but they also regarded the flag as a piece of military equipment at the time. Like other flags, it identified the troops, as well as serving to communicate messages to other officers.

Early flag-makers like Betsy Ross hardly understood the long-lasting impact of their work. They simply thought of themselves as seamstresses supplying essential military goods for the nascent country.

The red, white and blue didn’t transition into symbolic territory until the Civil War era. That’s when the flag went from being a simple way to mark military camps, ships and federal territories to becoming something meaningful for the average American citizen.


The Beginnings of Flag Day

Although the birth of the official American flag happened in 1777, the actual proposal of a bona fide holiday happened much later. A 19-year-old teacher named Bernard J. CiGrand actually invented Flag Day in 1885 when he walked into his Wisconsin schoolhouse one day and stuck a small American flag in an inkwell, challenging his students to compose an essay on its meaning. He also spent the next half century supporting the idea of making Flag Day an official national holiday.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson made a statement recognizing Flag Day on June 14th, but Congress didn’t make things official until 1949. Unfortunately, CiGrand didn’t live to see the victory, having died of a heart attack 17 years earlier.

Every year, we celebrate Flag Day on June 14th, the day Congress officially recognized it as our nation’s banner. At the time, though, Flag Day wasn’t a terribly big deal. In fact, the issue of the flag was the fifth most important issue on the agenda that day!



Celebrating Flag Day Today

This year, take some time out of your busy schedule to celebrate and honor the American flag. The following are just a few suggestions to consider.

Display the Flag
Taking care to follow appropriate flag etiquette, fly your own American flag outside your home or business and show your love of country. You can also display additional flags or themed decorations inside your home. Have your children help you and explain the importance of Flag Day as you decorate together.

Plan a Gathering
Why wait for Independence Day to throw a summer party? Celebrate life, liberty and brotherhood a little early this year. Light up the grill, put some beer on ice and invite your neighbors or acquaintances over to celebrate with you.

Learn More
Reading up on various aspects of American history is another great way to honor the legacy of the American flag. Learn more about major events like the American Revolution or the Civil War. Honor the flag’s origins  by researching military history as well.

At the end of the day, occasions like Flag Day exist as a reminder of what’s really important about life in America. Plan your own meaningful celebration this year and make this June 14th a day to remember!