George M. Cohan wrote the lyrics “You’re a grand old flag, You’re a high flying flag, And forever in peace may you wave…” as a tribute to the American flag for the musical George Washington, Jr. in 1906. This patriotic song can be heard all around the United States to commemorate “National Flag Day.” June 14th officially became known as National Flag Day on August 3, 1949, when President Truman signed an Act of Congress making this designation. However, Flag Day was officially established by a proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30, 1916, to remember the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777. Congress adopted the “Stars and Stripes” as the American flag on this day in 1777, displaying 13 stripes and 13 stars. While it is not a federal holiday, it is observed all across the country and the state of Pennsylvania is the only state that observes this day as a state holiday.
Some other fun, interesting facts about the American Flag you may or may not know about are:
- The flag has been changed 27 times, the final time was adding a star for Hawaii in 1960.
- The flag should not be flown at night without a light on it.
- There are six American flags on the moon. Five are standing, but Neil Armstrong’s fell over.
- If you like to study flags, then you are Vexillogist.
- 50 flags fly 24 hours a day around the Washington monument.
While this day is for honoring and respecting the American flag, it has not always been without controversy. Modern cases primarily focus on political protests; however, there was a case where Nebraska law was challenged by the United States Supreme Court that prevented and punished desecration of the flag and prohibited the sale of articles upon which there is a representation of the flag for advertising purposes. The court held that the statute was not unconstitutional either as depriving the owner of such articles of his property without due process of law, or as denying him the equal protection of the laws because of the exception from the operation of the statute of newspapers, periodicals, or books upon which the flag may be represented if disconnected from any advertisement Halter v. Nebraska, 205 U.S. 34 (1907).
There are many ways to honor this day and the many people who died protecting our country, most notably flying it proudly at public buildings and homes. If you want to learn more about the American flag and Flag Day, check out these resources: