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Flag Day 2019: The 242nd birthday of the American flag

The American flag. (MaxPixel.net/Released)
June 14, 2019

June 14 is Flag Day, a nationally observed day to honor Old Glory.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson designated June 14 to be the official day for recognizing the adoption of the American flag, a day that would not become “National Flag Day” until an act of Congress in 1949. However, the flag’s first observances had been held nearly a century earlier in 1877 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the flag’s official adoption at the time.

On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress passed the Flag Resolution which stated, “Resolved, That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

A Wisconsin schoolteacher named Bernard Cigrand organized the first annual flag day for the school where he taught in 1885, on the flag’s 108th birthday. Cigrand eventually became known as “Father of Flag Day,” Military.com reported.

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The celebration didn’t catch on until another schoolteacher, George Balch, directed the formal observance of Flag Day on June 14, 1889 by the New York State Board of Education.

After his efforts, 36 state and local governments began adopting the annual observance but for more than 30 years, the celebration was only observed at the state and local levels.

Finally in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson recognized a federal day to observe the Flag Resolution of 1777. Three decades later, it would be called “National Flag Day.”

Today, the flag has 13 stripes, representing the original colonies, and 50 stars representing each state, a design that followed several other iterations.

The flag used today was designed in the 1950s by an Ohio high school student, Robert Heft. He designed the flag for a school project. His teacher gave him a B- but told him if he could get it approved by Congress, he would raise the grade, according to History.com.

Heft sent the flag to Congressman Walter Moeller, who presented it to President Dwight Eisenhower who chose Heft’s design.

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On July 4, 1960, Eisenhower and Heft stood beside each other when the flag was raised for the first time with its new design.

The celebrations have continued each year on June 14, including parades and ceremonies across the nation to pay tribute to the symbol of American freedom.