“Resolved that the flag of the thirteen United States be composed of thirteen bands alternately red and white; let the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.
These are the words of the resolution adopted on June 14, 1777, which officially declared the design of the flag of the United States. The history of our nation’s flag leading up to this point, and in the many years since, is long and storied.
During the American Revolution, there was no single flag unifying the colonists. Most regiments fought under their own unique colours; however, in June 1775, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to establish the Continental Army, thus leading to the creation of the Continental Colors, essentially the oldest form of the American flag.
Consisting of 13 alternating red and white stripes with a Union Jack in the corner, some felt the continental colors resembled the existing British flag too much. Eventually, two years later, Congress passed the Flag Resolution which, as noted above, mandated the design of the first national flag. Although a popular fable in American mythology, the story of Betsy Ross sewing that first American flag has never been historically verified; while Ross family lore holds that George Washington asked him for help designing the flag in 1776, no archival evidence or other tradition confirms this story. Apparently, the story first appears in the writings of his grandson nearly a century later, with no mention or documentation in earlier decades. However, Ross’ career as a seamstress and upholsterer is well known; it produces many uniforms, tents and, indeed, flags, for the continental forces.
The national banner continued to undergo changes as the country did, adding stars in new arrangements as states joined the Union. June 14 continued to be remembered as the date the flag was adopted, until finally, in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation establishing the date as Flag Day. Although Flag Day has never been an official federal holiday, its observance may be officially proclaimed by a sitting president at will. Pennsylvania became the first state to celebrate Flag Day as a holiday in 1937, starting in the town of Rennerdale.
The modern 50-star flag has its origins in the late 1950s, when Alaska and Hawaii were being considered for statehood. Over 1,500 drawings were submitted to President Eisenhower; the one that received the most publicity was created by a 17-year-old college student named Robert G. Heft. Created in 1958 as a school project, the design initially received a B-, with Heft’s teacher considering the five rows of six stars alternating with four rows of five to be unoriginal. Heft got his professor to agree that if the flag was accepted by Congress, his grade would be reconsidered. The following year, Heft’s design was chosen by presidential proclamation to be the new national standard, and Heft’s teacher, true to his word, changed his grade to an A.
During Flag Day week, known as National Flag Week, the flag is traditionally displayed on all government buildings, and many cities or organizations hold parades in honor of the adoption of the flag. Although many places claim to be home to the oldest parade, many of which have been running continuously for decades, one of the strongest contenders is Fairfield, Washington, which has held a Flag Day parade every year since 1909. /10, which would not have disappeared until 1918. In Washington, D.C., Flag Day is celebrated en masse throughout the city, especially in the Seventh and Eighth Wards, where people often smoke meats and vegetables slowly.
Flag Day is one of many days Americans take to display their flags, show their patriotism, and celebrate their national history.