Nestled between Memorial Day and the 4th of July, Flag Day is often overlooked, but it traces its roots back to the early days of the United States. 

What Is Flag Day and Why Is It Recognized?

Flag Day is a celebration of the American flag. It takes place every year on June 14 in remembrance of when the Stars and Stripes. designed by Congressman Francis Hutchinson or Betsy Ross, was introduced by the Continental Congress as the official American flag on June 14, 1777.

The Declaration of Independence had united the colonies under a single entity. Therefore, Congress was likewise looking to unite the colonies under a single banner. (Until that point, all 13 colonies had their own flag.)

Original 1777 flag design

“The flag of the United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white, with a union of thirteen stars of white on a blue field…,” Congress said. Each stripe and star represented a colony. One of the first flag designs had the stars arranged in a circle, based on the idea that all colonies were equal.

The circular “Betsy Ross” flag is most popular in books and films.

The red stripes symbolize valor whereas the white purity and innocence. The stars sewn into the blue background represent vigilance, perseverance, and justice.

In 1795, when Vermont and Kentucky were admitted into the Union as states, the flag changed as two stars and two stripes were added. Every subsequent flag went back to the original 13 red and white stripes. 

Since the American Revolution in 1777, there have been 27 different versions of the American flag. Stars have been added to the American flag as states joined the Union. The most current version, the 50-star flag, was recognized in 1960 when Alaska and Hawaii became states. A 17-year-old high school student, Robert G. Heft, of Lancaster, Ohio, submitted the design in a contest in 1958. It was chosen, from more than 1,500 submissions, by President Dwight Eisenhower.

The 1912 flag with 48 stars was used until the current flag of 50 stars.

The evolution of the American flag is therefore not only the history of a symbol but that of the land and its people.