History of Flag Day

VFW MARIGOLD YELLOW RIBBON  —  A salute to our troops from the Conrad Garden Club.  Flowers were planted at the VFW by Garden Club President, Tracey Peterman and her husband Dale.  I-O Photo by Pat Lee




By Adam Jerome, I-O Reporter

On June 14 another Flag Day will be upon us.  While we all understand that Flag Day is a celebration of the “Stars and Stripes”, what escapes some of us is when it was started and why?

The idea of a day specifically celebrating the flag is believed to have begun in 1885 when BJ Cigrand, a schoolteacher, arranged for his class to celebrate June 14 as recognition of the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of the U.S. Flag.  It started out as the Flag birthday, but later was shortened to Flag Day.

In 1889, another teacher, George Blach planned ceremonies for his students.  His idea of observing the holiday was later adopted by the New York State Board of Education.

Then in 1891, the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia held a Flag Day celebration.

Following the suggestion of Colonel J Granville Leach, the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames of America adopted a resolution requesting the mayor of Philadelphia, all other government offices and private citizens to display the flag on June 14.

In 1894 New York followed suit and directed the Flag to be displayed on all public buildings on June 14.

While it started as a holiday mainly observed by individual states and children in the school system, the federal government soon joined the action.

Franklin K. Lane, Secretary of the Interior delivered a 1914 Flag Day address, in which he repeated words he said the flag had spoken to him that morning, “I am what you make me; nothing more.  I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of color, a symbol of yourself.”

Inspired by the past three decades of state and local celebrations, Flag Day (the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777) was officially established by President Woodrow Wilson on May 30, 1916.

While Flag Day was celebrated all over the U.S. for years after Wilson’s proclamation, it wasn’t until Aug. 3, 1949 that President Harry S. Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14 of each year as National Flag Day.