Flag Day is a celebration of our country’s flag. To pay tribute, USBA is bringing you interesting facts and tips for proper flag etiquette as you honor one of our country’s most iconic symbols of freedom.
On June 14, 1777, the Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress at Philadelphia resolved that the flag of the United States would consist of 13 alternating red and white stripes, and 13 stars, “white in a blue field representing a new constellation.” However, the resolution did not include specific instruction for how the stars were to be designed. A variety of flag designs emerged including various arrangements of the stars appearing in rows and in a circular pattern. The number of points on the stars also varied.
The first official Flag Day was celebrated in 1877 on the 100th anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777, but was not annually recognized until 1885.
School teacher BJ Cigrand, now known as the “Father of Flag Day,” first organized a group of Wisconsin school children to observe Flag Day on June 14, 1885, the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes as the United States’ flag. However, it was not until 1916 that President Woodrow Wilson marked Flag Day as the official national day of observance.
The current flag, representing the 50 states, was designed in the 1950’s as part of high school history project. In anticipation of the coming Alaska and Hawaii statehood, Ohio teen, 17-year-old Robert Heft, disassembled his family’s 48-star flag and stitched 50 stars in a proportional pattern. Following the history project, Heft was inspired to send his flag design to his congressman, Walter Moeller. Moeller then presented it to President Eisenhower and on July 4, 1960, the president and Heft raised the new 50-star flag for the first time. Following this turn of events, Heft’s teacher changed his original grade of “B-” into an “A.”
Flag etiquette and how to honor our flag
As you celebrate Flag Day 2020, and on all days, follow these flag etiquette rules to properly show your respect to the Stars and Stripes.
Some rules for displaying the flag:
- The American flag should only display from sunrise to sunset on buildings and stationary flagstaffs in the open, and must be illuminated by sunlight or other light source. When a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24-hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.
- Place the U.S. Flag above all other flags including city, state, local bodies of government or a group’s flag. When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they should be equivalent size and flown from separate staffs, both at the same height.
- On special days, the flag may be flown at half-staff, one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff. On Memorial Day it is flown at half-staff until noon and then raised.
- When used during a marching ceremony or parade with other flags, the U.S. Flag will be to the observer’s left.
- When flags are taken down from their poles, care must be taken to keep them from touching the ground. In fact, the American flag should always be kept aloft.
- Fold in the traditional triangle for stowage, never wadded up.
Find additional tips and rules for honoring the American flag here.
Learn how to properly fold the flag here.
Access the full United States Flag Code here.