What is Flag Day? Learn about one of America’s oldest symbols and the day honoring it

The United States will participate in the 74-year-old tradition by celebrating Flag Day on June 14. While it’s not the most high-profile celebration in the country, the national celebration has evolved into a symbol of American pride.

When did Flag Day start?

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed a resolution that the American flag would consist of 13 red and white stripes with 13 white stars on a blue background. The flag with 13 stars in a circle is known as the “Betsy Ross flag.”

In the years before Flag Day became a national celebration, states including Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin held events, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Presidents Woodrow Wilson in 1916 and President Calvin Coolidge in 1927 issued proclamations calling for June 14 to be declared Flag Day.

On August 3, 1949, Congress passed and President Harry Truman later signed the national commemoration into law. In 1966, Congress passed a resolution requiring the President to issue a proclamation designating the week of June 14th as “Flag Week” and calling on American citizens to fly the flag during that week.

What do the colors on the flag represent?

The red on the national flag represents toughness and bravery, white represents purity and innocence, and blue represents vigilance, tenacity and justice.

Why do we celebrate Flag Day?

Flag Day celebrates the strength and pride of America by recalling America’s 13 different flags. From “Don’t Tread on Me” in 1776 to the “Flag of 34 States” in 1861 to the 1960 flag flying outside countless buildings today, President Joe Biden says the flag stands for resilience.

“It has flown across battlefields since the Revolution and has reminded allies and adversaries throughout the last century that the darkness of tyranny is no match for the flames of freedom,” he told a news conference.

Is Flag Day a national holiday?

Flag Day is a national holiday, but not a day of rest. On August 3, 1949, Congress designated June 14 as Flag Day and asked the President to issue an annual proclamation calling for observance of the day and the flying of the flag on all federal government buildings.

In his 2023 manifesto, Biden said: “I urge all Americans to celebrate Flag Day and Flag Week by displaying our flags, honoring all of our brave service members, and honoring the total sacrifice of those who gave their last to defend our freedom people.”

How is Flag Day celebrated across the country?

People celebrate Flag Day by displaying the American flag with proper decorum. The American Flag Code, enacted in 1942, provides guidelines on how to properly display the Stars and Stripes. According to the American Legion, some of these guidelines include:

  • No additional flag may be flown above or to the right of the American flag.
  • When the American flag is not fit to fly, it should be destroyed with dignity.
  • The flag should not touch the ground.
  • Flags should be folded in the traditional triangle fold.

Flag myth

According to the American Legion, there are many myths about the Star-Spangled Banner that are widely believed. Some of these include:

  • The Flag Code prohibits washing or dry cleaning of the flag. (Incorrect.)
  • The Flag Act prohibits the “bordering” of the flag. (Incorrect.)
  • Mayors or town officials can order flags to be flown at half-staff. (Only the president or governor of the United States can issue this order.)
  • The flag code provides for penalties for violations of its provisions. (It doesn’t; the code is just a guide to proper flag etiquette.)

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