June 14 marks the birthday of the American flag.
In 1777, the Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes pattern for the national flag, even though the United States Constitution was more than a decade in the future.
Flag Day was first celebrated in 1877, the centennial of the U.S. flag’s existence. Although many citizens advocated the adoption of a national flag day, it wasn’t until 1949, that President Harry Truman signed legislation making Flag Day a day of national observance.
The flag’s design originated from various designs used during the American Revolution. The United States flag has thirteen stripes, alternating red and white, with each stripe representing one of the original 13 colonies. Each state is represented by a white star on a blue field. The last star was added in 1960, when Hawaii was granted statehood.
The “Star Spangled Banner” which flew over Baltimore’s Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, inspired Francis Scott Key’s composition of what would become our national anthem. This flag was eventually donated to the Smithsonian.
The Federal Flag Code states that it is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.