Reflections: Flag Day
By William L. Bulla
Weekly Contributing Writer
On June 14, Americans will celebrate the adoption of the first national flag. The week of June 14 is designated as "National Flag Week." During this week, the President will issue a proclamation urging U. S. citizens to fly the American flag for the duration of that week in celebration of our flag and everything it represents.
According to popular legend, Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia seamstress who was acquainted with George Washington, leader of the Continental Army, and other influential Philadelphians, made the first American flag. As the story goes, in May 1776, General Washington and two representatives from the Continental Congress visited Ross at her upholstery shop and showed her a rough design of the flag. Although Washington initially favored using a star with six points, Ross advocated for a five-pointed star, which could be cut with just one quick snip of the scissors, and the gentlemen were won over.
On June 14, 1777, John Adams spoke about the flag at a meeting of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. He said, "Resolved, that the flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation." There have been twenty-seven official versions of the flag so far; stars have been added to it as states have entered the Union. The current version dates to July 4, 1960, when Hawaii became the 50th state.
Flag Day was first observed in 1877, on the 100th anniversary of the Continental Congress' adoption of the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the United States. In that year, Congress asked that all public buildings fly the flag on June 14. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Flag Day as a national celebration. However, the holiday was not officially recognized until 1949, when President Harry Truman signed the National Flag Day Bill.
Flag Day falls within National Flag Week, a time when Americans reflect on the foundations of the nation's freedom. The flag of the United States represents freedom and has been an enduring symbol of the country's ideals since its early days. During both events, Americans also remember their loyalty to the nation, reaffirm their belief in liberty and justice, and observe the nation's unity.
Do you say the Pledge of Allegiance with your hand over your heart at your school, or at meetings of organizations of which you belong? Or stand with your hand over heart while "The Star Spangled Banner," our national anthem, is being played before a baseball game? Many Americans sing, pledge, and pay respect to the flag, "Old Glory," as a symbol of the country's democracy and independence. Saluting the flag is a way to celebrate and honor the United States of America.
Let us pledge allegiance to this Flag to declare our patriotism and raise its colors high to express our pride and respect for our American way of life.
William L. Bulla is a freelance writer residing in Washington County.