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Flag Day Celebrates Symbol of American Freedom for 239 Years

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Historic United States Flag

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I’ve been to the moon. I’ve been burned. But more often I’m honored. I’m your American flag.

With 13 stars for colonies clamoring for freedom, I was first flown at Fort Stanwix in New York in 1777 and then carried into battle for the first time at Brandywine in Pennsylvania. By war’s end, I was saluted as the emblem of a sovereign nation, new and free. I’m your American flag.

But most of all I represent the American spirit, the indomitable demand and yearning for freedom, excellence and opportunity. I am not the flag of a ruling regime or royal family. I am the American flag, representing rights emanating from a higher and transcendent authority honored on our coinage.

Look up to me as you salute or stand at attention. Pledge yourself to fulfill lofty goals symbolized by my heavenly sky-blue field for 50 stars. With red for valor and zeal and white for hope and purity, look up and salute with pride what the patriot poet hailed as a worthy star-spangled banner. May it forever wave over the land of the free and the home of the brave.

James F Burns

RELATED: Please vote in the poll at the end of this post.


In the United States, June 14 is celebrated as the birthday of the American flag. We call it Flag Day. In 2016, the American Flag will celebrate 239 years. Americans will celebrate 239 years of freedom, which we remember each time we see the red, white, and blue.

Flying the American Flag? See our article on Flag Etiquette.

A Little History

Betsy Ross with George Washington and the First American United States Flag

In May 1776, 3 members of a secret committee of the Continental Congress visited a widow struggling to make ends meet, maintain a small business, and feed her young children. We know her as Betsy Ross. We know the head of the secret committee as George Washington, soon to be the first President of the United States.

Here, Washington pulled a folded piece of paper from his inside coat pocket. On it, was a sketch of a flag with thirteen red and white stripes and thirteen six-pointed stars.

Washington asked if Betsy could make a flag from the design. Betsy responded: “I do not know, but I will try.”

The Continental Congress was only three months from declaring independence, and they sensed the need for a unifying symbol. Within a month, she gave them the first iteration of the Stars and Stripes.

A little over a year later on June 14th, 1777, the Continental Congress passed the following resolution: “Resolved that the flag of the thirteen United States be Thirteen stripes alternate red and white: that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

President Woodrow Wilson officially proclaimed that a national Flag Day be established in 1916, but it wasn’t until 1949 that it was confirmed by an act of Congress. Pennsylvania was the first state to declare an official state holiday on June 14 to observe Flag Day. The oldest continuing Flag Day parade is in Fairfield, Washington, and began in 1909.

Why We Celebrate


“Understanding what our flag represents is important in the comprehension of why one would give his or her life for it. Our flag of the good ‘ol U.S. of A. is our nation’s symbol that identifies us as Americans. It is the umbrella that represents and stands for our Constitution and underlying values and ethics of our country, the unity of its people, and the triumph of our accomplishments.” (Ron Verini, Vietnam Veteran)

The Pledge of Allegiance

Children hold a U.S. flag during the Veterans Day Parade at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, Nov. 8, 2012. The Veterans Day Parade and ceremony are annual events that are held to honor all those who have served in the United States military. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mia Parker/Released)

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

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