What is Flag Day? How do we celebrate? Why should we even care? These are all questions to which Americans should have an immediate answer. Sadly, as present generations are losing their concern for history and pride in country, it seems as though people are forgetting the flag altogether.
President Woodrow Wilson issued a 1916 proclamation, which declared Flag Day would be celebrated annually on June 14. Unofficially, however, it has been acknowledged in some form or fashion for over two centuries. While Flag Day is not an official federal holiday, many states like Pennsylvania have declared it a state holiday. It commemorates the passing of a 1777 act when the Continental Congress established an official flag for our new nation. Some scholars believe that George Washington hired Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross to design the flag in 1776. This story is widely debated amongst the community of historians because no actual documentation exists. Naysayers will admit this is possible, though, considering that Ross did know President Washington and she was known for sewing flags.
America currently holds twenty-seven different official versions of the flag. The arrangement of the stars varied according to the flag-makers’ preferences until 1912. The twenty-seventh president, William Howard Taft, standardized the flag’s forty-eight stars into six rows of eight. The forty-nine-star flag was developed after Alaska was admitted on January 3rd, 1959. Our current flag of fifty stars matured after Hawaii was added on August 21st, 1959, and also carries a standardized pattern. America has flown her current flag proudly since July 4th, 1960. Today, our nation’s flag consists of 13 horizontal stripes; seven red alternating with six white. The stripes represent the 13 original colonies, while the stars represent the 50 states of the Union. The colors of the flag are symbolic as well; red symbolizes hardiness and valor, white signifies purity and innocence and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.
The love for our flag begins early. From childhood, children begin their mornings in school reiterating the words many Americans have for decades. “I pledge allegiance to the FLAG of the United States of America…” After September 11th, 2001, people congregated to comfort and console one another, to lift up one another and strengthen communities. No matter the region of the nation, the flag remained the one thing they all had in common, waving proudly nearby. The flag is a lasting symbol of unity, hope, and freedom that America provides and must continue to exemplify.
Captain William Arthur Sirmon, who fought in World War One said, “Surely it is noble to fight for the flag, but how much more wonderful to have a world with flags that need no warriors. Is it possible? I think not. I am afraid we must always train men, discipline men, love men – then watch them die!”
Our flag has a proud and glorious history. It has led every battle fought by Americans and many people have died protecting it. It is our duty as free men and women to commemorate the people who have given their lives for us to own that freedom. As Americans, we have every right to be proud of our culture, our nation and our flag. Let us raise the flag every single day with pride!