us_flag_backlitIn 1949, President Harry S. Truman declared June 14, to be Flag Day, but have you ever wondered about the history of the American flag and the symbol of our country?

According to AC Flag and Banner in Denver, President Truman picked June 14 as Flag Day because the American flag becomes the country’s symbol on June 14, 1777, when the new country’s Continental Congress passed an act which created the official flag for the new nation. The resolution of the Continental Congress declared the flag of the United States would have thirteen stripes, alternating red and white; and that the union would have thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation. Of course, as states were admitted to the United States, the flag design added new stars to represent the new states. It has grown from the original thirteen stars to the fifty stars on today’s flag.

The American flag today, consists of 13 horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with six white. Most people know the stripes represent the original 13 colonies, and the 50 stars represent the 50 states. But many Americans don’t know that the colors of the flag have to mean, too. The red symbolizes hardiness and valor. The white symbolizes purity and innocence. The blue represents vigilance, perseverance, and justice.

According to AC Flag and Banner in Denver, the American flag flies only from sunrise to sunset, but if it’s properly illuminated at night, it can be flown in the dark as well. But did you know that there are some places where the U.S. flag is flown 24 hours a day, by either presidential proclamation or by law? Those include: Fort McHenry, National Monument and Historic Shrine in Baltimore, Maryland; Flag House Square in Baltimore, Maryland; United States Marine Corps Memorial (Iwo Jima) in Arlington, Virginia; on the green of the town of Lexington in Massachusetts; the White House, Washington, D.C.; customs ports of entry of the United States; and on the grounds of the National Memorial Arch in Valley Forge State Park, Valley Forge in Pennsylvania.

Although it’s hard to know for sure, our American history says that the first flag was sewn by Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross, and many believe it was designed by New Jersey Congressman Francis Hopkinson.

We often refer to the American flag as Old Glory. According to the PBS website, The Capitol Fourth, (http://www.pbs.org/a-capitol-fourth/history/old-glory/), the nickname Old Glory was given by William Driver, a sea captain from Massachusetts, for his huge American flag. Driver’s flag is reported to have survived multiple attempts to deface it during the Civil War. Mr. Driver flew his Old Glory flag over the Tennessee Statehouse after the war ended. The legendary flag is in the National Museum of American History.

Flag Day, on June 14, is often an overlooked celebration, but it shouldn’t be. The American flag has been the country’s symbol since 1777. The history of the American flag is symbolic of the struggles and successes of a new and determined country.

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