Today, June 14th is Flag Day a tradition begun by BJ Cigrand, a public school teacher in Fredonia, Wisconsin in 1885. The date was selected to celebrate the 108th anniversary of the Second Continental Congress enacting the Flag Resolution making the Betsy Ross flag the official flag of the United States.
The Continental Colors also known at the Grand Union flag is considered to be the first American flag. While it was never our official national flag it was considered by the Maritime Committee of the Continental Congress to be the official flag of the American naval forces.
The Betsy Ross flag is named largely based on legend the actual designer is thought to be Francis Hopkinson. The thirteen stars and stripes represented the original thirteen colonies. George Washington was the only president to serve under this flag.
The Star Spangled Banner Flag was adopted in 1777 and served as the national flag until 1795. However it was still flying over Fort McHenry in 1812 during a battle with the British when Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the Star Spangled Banner poem, which was later put to music and became our national anthem. The original battle flag is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.
The 20 Star American Flag of 1818 reduced the stripes back to thirteen and added five stars, only James Monroe served as President under this flag.
There were many versions of the American Flag as states were added so were new stars. Then in 1861 a single star was added for Kansas making the total 34. The civil war raged at this time and some Northerns cut 11 stars out of their flags in protest. President Lincoln believed the Southern states were still part of the government and he refused to remove the eleven stars from our flag.
The 48 Star Flag became official in 1912 by Executive Order. President Taft established proportions for the flag and arranging the stars with each star pointing upward in six horizontal rows of eight. This was our flag for 47 years flown by our nation during both the first and second World Wars.
Today our flag has 50 Stars; it was designed by Bob Heft a 17 year old student while working on a project for his high school history class. The 50 star flag has served as our national flag longer than any other design.
Today our national flag is recognized world wide as a symbol of freedom, democracy and opportunity. While Flag Day was started in a classroom it is our responsibility as parents to pass the history and traditions of our nation to the next generation. It is up to each of us to do our part.
A salute to the American Flag, forever may it wave.