On June 14, 1889, George Balch, a kindergarten teacher in New York City, planned appropriate ceremonies for the children of his school, and his idea of observing Flag Day was later adopted by the State Board of Education of New York. On June 14, 1891, the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia held a Flag Day celebration, and on June 14 of the following year, the New York Society of the Sons of the Revolution, celebrated Flag Day.
Following the suggestion of Colonel J Granville Leach (at the time historian of the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolution), the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames of America on April 25, 1893 adopted a resolution requesting the mayor of Philadelphia and all others in authority and all private citizens to display the Flag on June 14th. Leach went on to recommend that thereafter the day be known as 'Flag Day', and on that day, school children be assembled for appropriate exercises, with each child being given a small Flag.
Two weeks later on May 8th, the Board of Managers of the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution unanimously endorsed the action of the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames. As a result of the resolution, Dr. Edward Brooks, then Superintendent of Public Schools of Philadelphia, directed that Flag Day exercises be held on June 14, 1893 in Independence Square. School children were assembled, each carrying a small Flag, and patriotic songs were sung and addresses delivered.
In 1894, the governor of New York directed that on June 14 the Flag be displayed on all public buildings. With BJ Cigrand and Leroy Van Horn as the moving spirits, the Illinois organization, known as the American Flag Day Association, was organized for the purpose of promoting the holding of Flag Day exercises. On June 14th, 1894, under the auspices of this association, the first general public school children's celebration of Flag Day in Chicago was held in Douglas, Garfield, Humboldt, Lincoln, and Washington Parks, with more than 300,000 children participating.
Adults, too, participated in patriotic programs. Franklin K. Lane, Secretary of the Interior, delivered a 1914 Flag Day address in which he repeated words he said the flag had spoken to him that morning: "I am what you make me; nothing more. I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of color, a symbol of yourself."
Inspired by these three decades of state and local celebrations, 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.
Some Other Important Flags Of Our Past
SONS OF LIBERTY
The original nine stripes of this flag represented the nine colonies that convened the "Stamp Act Congress" in 1765. After repeal of the Act in 1766, the flag became associated with the Sons of Liberty and became known to the British as the "Rebellious Stripes." The Sons reached their zenith of influence with the Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773, after which the nine colonies were joined by the rest.
George Washington owned his own private navy of six schooners. Outfitted at his personal expense in the autumn of 1775. Ever the diplomat, Virginian Washington chose the New England pine tree motif as a gesture of solidarity and friendship between the northern and southern colonies.
Sketch Benjamin Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette
This flag was never officially sanctioned by the Continental Congress but is considered the first flag of the United States and was in use from late 1775 until mid 1777. This flag was an alteration of the British Meteor flag. In its blue canton was the red cross of ST. George and the white cross of ST. Andrew. The thirteen stripes signified the original colonies. Retaining the British Union in the canton indicated a continued loyalty, as the Americans saw it, to the constitutional government against which they fought. On January 1,1776, this flag was first raised on Prospect Hill (then called MT. Pisgah), in Somerville, Massachusetts. At this time the Continental army came into formal existence. At the time it was known as the continental colors because it represented the entire nation. In one of Washington's letters he referred to it as the "Great Union Flag" and it is most commonly called the Grand Union today.
In 1751 Benjamin Franklin's paper carried an article recommending that a cargo of rattlesnakes be sent to England as a way to thank the Brits for their policy of sending convicted felons to America, American colonists should send rattlesnakes to England. Three years later, in 1754, Benjamin Franklin published a drawing of a snake cut into eight parts (Georgia was not included). This was to show the members of the Albany Congress the danger of disunity. Three years later, in 1754, he used a snake to illustrate another point. This time not so humorous. The segments of the snake had grown together, and the motto had been changed to read 'United Now Alive and Free Firm on this Basis Liberty Shall Stand and Thus Supported Ever Bless Our Land Till Time Becomes Eternity'. The rattlesnake had become a favored symbol among pre-Revolutionary War colonists.
Benjamin Franklin sketched, carved, and published the first known political cartoon in an American newspaper. It was the image of a snake cut into eight sections. The sections represented the individual colonies and the curves of the snake suggested the coastline. New England was combined into one section as the head of the snake. South Carolina was at the tail. Beneath the snake were the ominous words "Join, or Die."
Which brings us to the Famous Gadsden Flag
Flags with a rattlesnake theme also gained increasing prestige with colonists. The slogan "Don't Tread on Me" almost invariably appeared on rattlesnake flags. A flag of this type was the standard of the South Carolina Navy. Another, the Gadsden flag, consisted of a yellow field with a rattlesnake in a spiral coil, poised to strike, in the center. Below the snake was the motto, "Don't Tread on Me."
Still another was a white flag with a green pine tree and the inscription, "An Appeal to Heaven." This particular flag became familiar on the seas as the ensign of the cruisers commissioned by General Washington, and was noted by many English newspapers of the time.
The American Flag And The Great Seal
On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress passed a resolution authorizing a committee to devise a seal for the United States of America. This mission, designed to reflect the Founding Fathers' beliefs, values, and sovereignty of the new Nation, did not become a reality until June 20, 1782. In heraldic devices, such as seals, each element has a specific meaning. (There will be a blog later on the Great Seal) Historically colors have always had specific meanings. The colors red, white, and blue did however, not have meanings for the Stars and Stripes when it was adopted in 1777. However, beings that the colors in the Great Seal did have specific meanings, they were adopted. Charles Thompson, Secretary of the Continental Congress, reporting to Congress on the Seal, stated:
The colors of the pales (the vertical stripes) are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valour, and Blue, the color of the Chief (the broad band above the stripes) signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice. The accepted meanings above have now have come to repesent the meanings of the American Flag.
The Flag We Honor Today is The STARS AND STRIPES
HAPPY FLAG DAY