“Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.” This resolution of the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777 created our first official flag.
Flag Day is celebrated each year on June 14. According to tradition, the President issues an annual proclamation requesting all citizens to proudly display the American flag on Flag Day.
Flag Day was first officially observed in 1877 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the flag. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed June 14th as Flag Day. However, it was not made official until August 3, 1949, when President Harry S. Truman signed the Flag Act of Congress.
The flag of the United States of America is one of the most recognizable symbols on earth. From its creation, the flag has stood for freedom and liberty. It is a representation of the whole nation. Hold the flag carefully; you’re holding the whole country in your hands.
It may be beneficial to reflect upon the following message which was originally delivered by President Woodrow Wilson for Flag Day in 1917. It is as relevant today as it was then.
“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. It has no other character than that to which we give it from generation to generation. The choices are ours. It floats in majestic silence above the hosts that execute those choices, whether in peace or in war. And yet, though silent, it speaks to us – speaks to us of the past, of the men and women who went before us, and of the records they wrote upon it.
“We celebrate the day of its birth; and from its birth until now it has witnessed a great history, has floated on high the symbol of great events, of a great plan of life worked out by a great people…
“Woe be to the man or group of men that seeks to stand in our way in this day of high resolution when every principal we hold dearest is to be vindicated and made secure for the salvation of the nation. We are ready to plead at the bar of history, and our flag shall wear a new luster. Once more we shall make good with our lives and fortunes the great faith to which we were born, and a new glory shall shine in the face of our people.”
Hopefully, these words of President Wilson will enhance the meaning of the flag and cause us to reflect on the past and future of our Nation.
From Flag Day through the 4th of July there are many patriotic activities and celebrations and the national anthem is often played during these celebrations.
During the national anthem, civilians should place their right hand over the left breast, near the heart, and hold it there until the anthem is finished. Anyone wearing a hat should take it off with the right hand and hold it while his or her hand is placed near the heart. Individuals in military uniform, active-duty military not in uniform, and veterans will use the military-style salute.(The law was changed in 2008 to allow for this. See USC Title 36, Chapter 1, §301)
• Flag Facts, National Flag Foundation
• Honor Our Flag, The Globe Pequot Press
• The United States Flag: Federal Law Relating to Display and Associated Questions, CRS Report for Congress, February 7, 2011
• Our Flag, Joint Committee on Printing, United States Congress, Concurrent Resolution 108, 109th Congress