Why Do We Celebrate Flag Day? - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Jun 14, 2023

Why Do We Celebrate Flag Day?

Every year on June 14 Americans observe Flag Day, commemorating the anniversary of when the United States flag was adopted by the Second Continental Congress in the Flag Act of 1777. But have you ever stopped and wondered, ‘What is Flag Day?’ or ‘Why do we celebrate Flag Day?’


Although not a designated federal holiday, Flag Day is observed by many Americans as an opportunity to pay respects to the United States flag and the concepts it symbolizes. Some cities and organizations celebrate Flag Day through long-standing parade traditions, flag retirement ceremonies, and other patriotic get-togethers. Continue reading to learn about the history of our flag and what it represents!


What is Flag Day?


On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress passed the Flag Resolution Act adopting a flag with 13 stars and 13 stripes of alternating red and white as the first official flag of the United States. Famously sewn by the Philadelphian upholsterer, Betsy Ross, the flag was created to be red, white, and blue, with red symbolizing hardiness and valor, white symbolizing purity and innocence, and blue symbolizing vigilance, perseverance, and justice. The 13 stars on the original flag represented the original 13 colonies.


The flag design evolved several times between 1777 and 1960 as more states achieved statehood, gradually growing to include 50 stars. The version of our flag we know today was first implemented on July 4, 1960, after Hawaii achieved statehood—it’s the longest-used flag in our country’s history!


In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation declaring June 14th as National Flag Day. The day was then established as a national holiday by an Act of Congress in 1949, but was never ratified as a federal holiday. As a result, businesses generally operates as usual on Flag Day without any closures.


How Can I Celebrate Flag Day?


Many cities and veteran-run organizations coordinate Flag Day Parades to celebrate the holiday, and attending one can be a fun and patriotic way to pay homage to the values the country and flag were founded on. Another way to celebrate Flag Day is to learn about the United States flag and the proper regulations to display it.


Did you know that there is a United States Flag Code which outlines the proper way a flag should be handled, displayed, stored, and if worn beyond repair, destroyed? The flag code notes a number of guidelines, including size specifications, the manner in which a flag should be hoisted and lowered, when the flag should and should not be displayed, as well as other customs. A few of the flag code’s requirements include:


        “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 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.”

        “The flag should be hoisted briskly, and lowered ceremoniously.”

        “The flag should be displayed daily on or near the main administration building of every public institution.”

        “The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of States or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs.”

        “When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace.”

        “No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.”

        “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”


Many veteran-run and governmental organizations offer drop boxes to collect worn flags before disposing of them in a ceremonial manner. If you’re disposing of Old Glory in a private burning ceremony, be sure to do so in a dignified manner and observe any applicable local fire ordinances!