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June 11, 2022 3 min read

How Much Do You Know About the Stars and Stripes?

People across the United States celebrate Flag Day on June 14 each year to honor the United States flag and to commemorate the flag’s adoption. On the same day, the United States Army celebrates its birthday.

A Little Flag Day History

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress replaced the British symbols of the Grand Union flag with a new design featuring 13 white stars on a field of blue and 13 red and white stripes—one for each state. Although the Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross is popularly attributed with designing this early version of the flag, historians generally point to Francis Hopkinson as the creator. Hopkinson was a delegate from New Jersey and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

 

 

The number of stars increased as the new states entered the Union, but the number of stripes stopped at 15 and was later returned to 13.

In June 1886 Bernard Cigrand made his first public proposal for the annual observance of the birth of the flag when he wrote an article titled “The Fourteenth of June” in the old Chicago Argus newspaper. Cigrand’s effort to ensure national observance of Flag Day finally came when President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling for a nationwide observance of the event on June 14, 1916. However, Flag Day did not become official until August 1949, when President Harry Truman signed the legislation and proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day. In 1966, Congress also requested that the President issue annually a proclamation designating the week in which June 14 occurs as National Flag Week.

The President is requested to issue each year a proclamation to: call on government officials in the USA to display the flag of the United States on all government buildings on Flag Day; and to urge US residents to observe Flag Day as the anniversary of the adoption on June 14, 1777, by the Continental Congress of the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the United States.

Who Made the First American Flag?

The origins of the Stars and Stripes have become part of American folklore. Although many people believe that Betsy Ross designed and sewed the first flag, there is no true proof of this. However, records do indicate that she made ensigns and pennants for the Philadelphia navy during the war. Various towns in colonial America have claimed to be the birthplace of the Stars and Stripes.

Based on colonial folklore, it has also been stated that the American flag was first flown in battle during the Revolutionary War at the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge in 1777.

However, what we do know is this: 

The first American flag was designed to represent the 13 original colonies with 13 white stars on a blue field and 13 alternating red and white stripes.

One of the first flag designs had the stars arranged in a circle, based on the idea that all colonies were equal.

In 1818, after a few design changes, the United States Congress decided to retain the flag’s original 13 stripes and add new stars to reflect each new state that entered the union.

Why Is the American Flag Red, White, and Blue?

The Continental Congress left no record as to why it chose these colors. However, in 1782, the Congress of the Articles of Confederation chose the colors for the Great Seal of the United States with these meanings:

    white for purity and innocence

    red for valor and hardiness

    blue for vigilance, perseverance, and justice

Now, that you already have known the history of Flag Day, how are you going to celebrate it?

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