Celebrating Flag Day

It's Flag Day today in the USA. Celebrated every year on June 14th, this American “observance” day celebrates the adoption of the United States flag back in 1777. It also happens to be the US Army's birthday when the Second Continental Congress (1775) approved the forming of an army for “purposes of common defense” … read that revolution! Officially established by Woodrow Wilson in a 1916 presidential proclamation, Flag Day is not a federal holiday … no one gets the day off or anything. It does, however, recognize the importance of the “red, white and blue” as an icon of the United States. flag day poster

Americans are a very patriotic people. We refer to our flag as Old Glory, the Star-Spangled Banner, the Stars and Stripes. We sing songs about it: “Star-Spangled Banner” “Stars and Stripes Forever”, “You're a Grand Old Flag”. Francis Hopkinson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, designed the first flag. Tradition has it that Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia seamstress and upholsterer, fabricated the first flag just after the Revolutionary War, but historians doubt that's true. It was Betsy's grandson who introduced the notion that she was involved and there was no one around to dispute him, so the legend was created and survives. A hundred years after her death, artists were painting scenes of the historic flag-sewing event.

betsy ross

Flags were initially utilized by the military to identify troop location and provide signals and communications on the battlefield. At sea, the semiphore system was devised for communication between ships. Beginning in the 17th century in the great Age of Sail, ships customarily flew the flag of their nationality. Subsequently, displaying a national flag became a maritime law and internationally accepted.

nautical alphabet

Maritime signal flags, the nautical alphabet, are still used today quite regularly. Not only does each flag represent a letter of the alphabet, it also has an internationally understood interpretation. It's the reason we fly the solid yellow “Q” flag when we arrive in a new country. It signifies "My vessel is 'healthy' and I request free pratique."

It was only near the end of the 18th century that countries began adopting national flags. Today, every sovereign nation has its own flag.

flags of the world

A little vexillological trivia ... Vexillology is the science and artistry of flags and banners, from the Latin vexillum meaning flag or banner.

Most flags are rectangular. The flag of Nepal is the only non-traditional national flag.

nepal flag

The oldest, continuously used national flag is the flag of Denmark, the legendary Dannebrog which fell from the heavens and helped the Danes win a war against Estonia in 1219. The design was adopted as their national flag c. 1625.

flag of denmark

Take a world flag quiz here!

and some American flag trivia ...

Robert G. Heft, age 17, is credited with designing the current 50-star American flag in 1958 as a high school class project. He received a B− on the project.

Symbolism of the US flag includes: 50 stars, one for each state; 13 stripes, one for each of the original thirteen colonies. Each color is symbolic as well: red for blood, courage and revolution; white for peace and purity: and blue for freedom and prosperity.

Additional stars have been added 27 times between 1777 and 1960.

Okay, I admit it. Once again, I've gotten carried away and a bit off the subject, but rest assured, we will be flying our national flag today. What about you?

only american flag in the marina