(Photo courtesy of Washington State Archives)
For many schoolchildren here in Washington, June 14 is the first day of summer vacation or the last day of school. It’s also Flag Day, the holiday when we celebrate the birthday of the U.S. flag.
The “Stars and Stripes” originated as a result of a resolution offered by the Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress at Philadelphia and adopted on June 14, 1777. The resolution read:
“Resolved: that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
The Secretary of State’s Olympia office and website proudly display, interpret and sell state and U.S. flags, and operate a flag donation program. Go here for more info.
The 1940 photo above, courtesy of the State Archives, shows a family riding a ferry with the U.S. flag in the background.
The Stars and Stripes was adopted as the U.S. flag on June 14, 1777, and commemorations of the flag’s “birthday” gained popularity in the 1880s and 1890s. Historical accounts describe how these ceremonies spread from schools and small communities to big cities and state governments. Eventually, the anniversary was recognized as “Flag Day” in 1916 under a presidential proclamation from Woodrow Wilson.
But a proclamation is not quite a law.
For three decades, various communities set aside June 14 for flag-related events — but National Flag Day was officially created under federal law when President Truman signed an act of Congress in 1949.