June 14th 2010 will be celebrated in the US as national Flag Day. Flag Day comemorates the adoption of the good old “stars and stripes” 233 years ago, after the Second Continental Congress in 1777.
The beginnings of the American Flag are not specifically known. There are stories abound, the most promenenent tells of Betsy Ross as the original seamstress. This bit of trivia is not verifiable, but has gone down to color american folklore. What is sure is that Congress passed the First Flag Act in 1777 decreeing that “…That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation." As time passed more stars were added to the blue field, achieving 50 stars in its current form.
The earliest records of celebration of the holiday date back to 1861 and dot the historical landscape from that point on. One particularly amusing anecdote is of President Theodor Roosevelt, who upon seeing what he thought was a gentleman blowing his nose into an American Flag handkerchief, began to lash him with a found wood rod. About eight lashes later, he realized it was merely a blue handkerchief with white stars, he is said to have apologized to the man and then to have whipped him once more for making him “riled up with national pride”.
The holiday was officiated by proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson in 1949, and it was subsequently established by an act of Congress. It isn’t a national holiday, or a day of work respite, though Pennsylvania, expressing its free will has celebrated Flag Day as a state elicited holiday since 1937.
Flag Day acts as the centerpiece for “National Flag Week,” during the week the US president, in this case President Obama, will issue a proclamation in support of his citizens flying the American flag for the length of the week. Flag Day has historically been celebrated by parades all across the United States, the largest of which is centered in Troy, New York marching for upwards of 50,000 spectators.
Flag day is not a spectacle unique to the United States. It is thematic holiday celebrated all over the world. It is typically codified in national statutes but also can be present by mandate or presidential decree.
Flags are used for a myriad of purposes as mediums to display a significant emblem. This is not exclusive to ferderal governements and can be seen in state flags, municipal flags, city and town flags, flags for business, flags for politicians, even flags that done family crest. They stand as a proud monument to an idea, popping and postured on windy days across the world.
If you have an interesting story about a family flag or pictures and descriptions we would love to hear about it in a our comment box.
You can see a full list of flag days across the globe here.
You can read more about the history of Flag Day here.