The History of Flag Day

October 1, 2021

Check out the below infographic to learn an overview of the holiday's history, or check out the article below it for a more detailed synopsis. 

When most of us think of summer holidays, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day come to mind. However, Flag Day, celebrated in the US on June 14th, is a significant date that commemorates the day the first flag resolution was passed.

The First Flag Resolution

During the American Revolution in early 1775, the colonists were fighting under a variety of different flags. Then, in June of that year, the Second Continental Congress decided to create the Continental Army – a more unified force. This led to the creation of what can be considered the first ‘American’ flag, known as the ‘Continental Colors’.

The resolution stated:

That the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.

Origin of the Holiday

After the flag was created, there were several individuals who helped establish Flag Day as the holiday we know today.

First, BJ Cigrand, a schoolteacher in Wisconsin, regularly petitioned to have an annual observance of the new flag in magazine and paper articles. And on June 14, 1885, he and his students celebrated what he called the flag’s ‘birthday’, a celebration which can be considered the first formal recognition of the holiday. He ultimately came to be known as the ‘Father of the Flag’.

Another influence was George Morris, a man from Hartford, Connecticut who created a formal observance of Flag Day in his hometown.

And George Bolch, a kindergarten teacher in New York, planned Flag Day ceremonies for the children at the school.

In the first serious legitimization of the holiday, on May 7, 1937, Pennsylvania became the first state to establish Flag Day, on June 14, as a legal holiday.

Federal Recognition

Even after Pennsylvania became the first state to establish Flag Day as a holiday in 1937, it wasn’t until 1949 that it became a national holiday.

President Woodrow Wilson initially tried to give federal recognition to the day in 1916 and President Calvin Coolidge did the same in 1927, but it wasn’t until 1949 when Congress approved and President Harry Truman signed the observance of Flag Day on June 14 into law.

Current Day Celebrations

Even though we now observe Flag Day every June 14, it is not considered a federal holiday. Instead, we celebrate the stars and stripes through songs, parades, and ceremonies, and remind ourselves of the meaning behind the flag.