Just what is the significance of Flag Day? Until 1776, colonies and militias used many different flags and it became apparent to our Founding Fathers, that we needed a flag that would unify us. Three members of a secret committee from the Continental Congress came to call upon Betsy Ross in May of 1776. Those representatives, George Washington, Robert Morris, and George Ross, asked her to sew the first flag. Betsy was a widow struggling to run her own upholstery business. Upholsterers in colonial America not only worked on furniture but did all manner of sewing work, which for some included making flags. According to Betsy, General Washington showed her a rough design of the flag that included a six-pointed star. Betsy, a standout with the scissors, demonstrated how to cut a five-pointed star in a single snip. Impressed, the committee entrusted Betsy with making our first flag.
On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress, seeking to promote national pride and unity, adopted the national flag. “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.” There have been twenty-seven official versions of the flag so far; stars have been added to it as states have entered the Union. The current version dates to July 4, 1960, when Hawaii became the 50th state.
I happen to own a replica of the Star Spangled Banner flag, so named because that was the flag flying over Fort Mc Henry Sept 13, 1814, the night Francis Scott Key wrote our Star Spangled Banner. The original flag is now preserved in the Smithsonian Museum.
You can notice the “tilt” in some of the stars above just as in the original Star Spangled Banner. If you visit Ft. McHenry, you can purchase a replica of the flag in the gift shop, take it to the U.S. Parks warden on duty, and he will run it up the flag pole. Then your Star Spangle Banner flag will have the distinction of having flown in the same place as the original almost 200 years ago!
This Flag became the Official United States Flag on May 1st,1795. Two stars were added for the admission of Vermont (the 14th State on March 4th, 1791) and Kentucky (the 15th State on June 1st, 1792, and was to last for 23 years. The five Presidents who served under this flag were; George Washington (1789-1797), John Adams (1797-1801), Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809), James Madison (1809-1817), and James Monroe (1817-1825).
The 15-star, 15-stripe flag was authorized by the Flag Act of January 13, 1794, adding 2 stripes and 2 Stars. The regulation went into effect on May 1, 1795. This flag was the only U.S. Flag to have more than 13 stripes.
Both President Wilson, in 1916, and President Coolidge, in 1927, issued proclamations asking for June 14 to be observed as the National Flag Day. But it wasn’t until August 3,1949, that Congress approved the national observance, and President Harry Truman signed it into law. Successive Presidents have issued annual proclamations. You can learn about all of our flags at U.S.Flag.org. Although Flag Day is not celebrated as a Federal holiday, Americans everywhere continue to honor the history and heritage it represents. So proudly unfurl your flag tomorrow!
- Lorre Lei