This month we honor our national symbol, the American flag. The idea of an annual day to honor the U.S. flag is believed to have originated in 1885. B.J. Cigrand, a school teacher, arranged for the pupils in his Fredonia, Wisc., school to observe June 14 as “Flag Birthday.” In many magazine and newspaper articles over the following years, Cigrand enthusiastically advocated the observance of June 14 as Flag Birthday, or Flag Day.
Gradually, the idea was adopted in other parts of the country. Inspired by decades of state and local celebrations, Flag Day was officially established by a proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. But it was not until August 3, 1949 that President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14 of each year as National Flag Day.
In his writing about the U.S. flag, Charles Evan Hughes said:
The flag is the symbol of our national unity, our national endeavor, our national aspiration.
It tells of the struggle for independence, of union preserved, of liberty and union one and inseparable, of the sacrifices of brave men and women to whom the ideals and honor of this nation have been dearer than life.
The first flag was adopted in 1777, and it had 13 stars and 13 stripes. It changed July 4, 1960 to accommodate 50 stars with the admission of Hawaii to the union.
There have been 27 different flags featuring the stars and stripes, changing as states were admitted to the union.
When the flag is folded in ceremony, it is folded into a triangle with 13 folds, each representing an idea. The folded flag represents the three-cornered hat, the kind worn by George
Washington and others during the Revolutionary War.
Interestingly, Flag Day falls in June, as does Father’s Day. The 10th fold is a tribute to fathers who give their sons and daughters to defend the country. The 9th fold represents women, honoring their character traits of faith, love, loyalty and devotion.