You remember singing songs in tribute when you were in middle school, and you've likely pledged your allegiance, but have you ever stopped to wonder why we celebrate Flag Day? It's a patriotic holiday that falls in the middle of June, right between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, but because we don't get a three-day weekend or an extra day off to celebrate, this day often seems to slide under the radar.
So what do you need to know to celebrate the stars and stripes? Woodrow Wilson first made Flag Day a holiday in May of 1916, when he issued a presidential proclamation that set aside June 14 as the day Americans would honor the history of the American flag by dressing up their stores, homes, and businesses with the red, white, and blue colors that have come to symbolize our freedom. President Harry Truman signed a bill to officially make it a holiday in 1949.
That June 14 date has some significance, by the way. It is believed that George Washington commissioned Betsy Ross to create a flag to symbolize our nation in June of 1776, shortly before the Declaration of Independence was signed. A year later in June of 1777, it's thought that the new flag became the official symbol of the new nation, and while it didn't look exactly the way it does now (back then, it only had 13 stars), it's pretty darn close.
Since then, we've seen the American flag go through 27 variations, but its symbolic power remains the same. As far as celebrations go, many cities across the country honor the occasion with flag-raising ceremonies, and many families display their flags outside their homes. It's not a federal holiday — businesses stay open, and you likely won't have the day off from work — but it's still a great opportunity to reflect on our nation's history and, if you're feeling particularly patriotic, show off your stars and stripes.
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