It's the holiday that really isn't one: today, June 14, is Flag Day, although few Americans understand what the day is all about and why we celebrate the glory of Old Glory on this day. So let's take a look back at the history of Flag Day, and perhaps clear up some of the confusion around this mysterious American "holiday."
It all started on June 14, 1777, when our country officially adopted the American flag to represent our nation. That's the day the Continental Congress passed the First Flag Act which declared that our flag would have "13 stripes alternate red and white: that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation."
Although many people feel Betsy Ross designed the American flag, many modern historians dispute that theory. In fact, no one knows for sure who created the flag's design, but we do know why red, white, and blue were chosen: red represented hardiness and valor, white represented purity, and blue represented vigilance and justice.
Flag Day wasn't really celebrated until a century after its inception, and it wasn't until 1916 that President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation officially establishing June 14 as Flag Day. Actual legislation was late signed by President Harry Truman in 1949, although the day has never been recognized as a federal holiday.
So why even have a day for our flag? For some American households, this marks the start of the Independence Day period and the unofficial beginning of summer. If you haven't already hung a flag out because of Memorial Day, now's a good time to pull her out of storage and proudly display the recognized colors of this country: let's hear it for the red, white, and blue! Also, some cities around the country like Quincy, Massachusetts and Troy, New York hold an annual Flag Day parade.
Here's some rules for flag etiquette as established by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs:
*The flag can be displayed at all times so long as it's illuminated when it's dark outside.
*It can be displayed often, but especially on national and state holidays and during special occasions.
*It should be displayed on or near the main building of public institutions, schools during school days, and polling places on election days.
*The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
*When the flag is displayed other than from a staff, it should be flat or suspended so that its folds fall free.