The birth of Old Glory

By Romalyn Aaron, For the Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 6/16/19

What is so significant about June 14 in America?

Historically, June 14, is to celebrate the birth or creation of the first American Flag. It was June 14, 1777, when the Second Continental Congress worked together and decided that the “flag of the United States will be 13 stripes, alternate red and white,” and that “the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.

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The birth of Old Glory

Posted

What is so significant about June 14 in America?

Historically, June 14, is to celebrate the birth or creation of the first American Flag. It was June 14, 1777, when the Second Continental Congress worked together and decided that the “flag of the United States will be 13 stripes, alternate red and white,” and that “the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” The origination of the American Flag goes a long way in that the stars represented the 13 original states of the nation.

As our nation grew and ventured westward, the nation grew in strength and population through several battles and wars. It was not until the 1950s when Alaska — with Hawaii not too far behind — became a state of the United States. We gained our most current flag with 50 stars representing all 50 states in the Union, with the alternating red and white stripes representing the original 13 colonies.

We all know that Betsy Ross, who assisted by repairing uniforms and sewing tents during the Revolutionary War, helped design the first American Flag. An interesting fact of how the American Flag is what it is today dates back in the 1950s when we originally had 48 stars and designers began designing the flag to include Alaska as the 49th state of the Union.

In Ohio, a 17-year-old high school student named Bob Heft had disassembled his family flag that had 48 stars and stitched equally shaped and distanced 50 stars to his family flag. With his creation complete, he handed it to his history teacher for a class project, explaining that Hawaii was going to achieve statehood as soon as Alaska became a state of the Union.

Mr. Heft also sent his design to his congressman at that time, Walter Moeller. Congressman Moeller immediately presented the newly designed flag to President Eisenhower after Alaska and Hawaii joined the Union. It was July 4, 1960, when President Eisenhower, alongside him Bob Heft, first raised the new flag of the United States containing all 50 states represented by 50 stars, with the original 13 colonies represented by alternating white and red stripes.

Although the American flag with 50 stars was not created and raised as the American flag until July 4, 1960, Flag Day or Flag Birthday continued to be celebrated on June 14, as the first American Flag was born and in keeping with the tradition of Flag Birthday/Flag Day.

Years before Flag Day became nationally observed in 1916, historians date the first Flag Day celebration as far back as 1885, arranged by BJ Cigrand, a schoolteacher in Fredonia, Michigan. As the years progressed, more teachers and patriots from around the country planned ceremonies to celebrate the birth of the flag on June 14.

George Balch, a kindergarten teacher in New York City, planned ceremonies for children of his school to celebrate the birth of the American Flag on June 14, 1889. In 1891, the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia conducted a Flag Day celebration, and the following year, the New York Society of the Sons of the Revolution celebrated Flag Day on June 14.

By 1916, Flag Day, the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777, was officially established by the proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30th, 1916.

While Flag Day was celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson’s proclamation, it was not until August 3rd, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.

American history is rich, and the American Flag has seen all of what our country has endured and accomplished through several battles and wars. Men and women alike gave their lives, the ultimate sacrifice, so that Americans could live the American way of life with liberty, justice and the pursuit of happiness.

VFW Marvin Lee Ferguson Post 4850, in partnership with American Legion Woods-Smith Post 9 and Boy Scout Troop/Pack 126, will be hosting the Second Annual Flag Retirement Ceremony on June 22, 2019, at 4 p.m., located at the VFW Building, 3401 Veterans Dr., Jasper, Alabama, 35501.

Food and refreshments will be provided, and it’s a free event. For more information or if you have a flag you want to be retired, call VFW Commander Sam Griffith at 205-387-8940 or Romalyn Aaron at 205-300-9929.