Flag Day 2013: 9 Things You Never Knew About the American Flag

Whether we are singing the National Anthem at a sporting event or reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, Americans show loyalty and respect to the flag everyday. But June 14 is a national holiday, a day that honors the Star Spangled Banner. Here are some interesting facts about the American flag and the development of its National Day. 

1. A Wisconsin Teacher is the Brains Behind Flag Day

In 1885, Bernard J. Cigrand, a 19-year old Waubeka, Wisconsin teacher, proposed the idea of Flag Day "to inspire not only his students but also all Americans in the real meaning and majesty of our flag."  Cigrand wrote hundreds of articles advocating to celebrate the day on June 14, the day the U.S originally adopted its national flag.

2. President Truman Made Flag Day Official

In 1949, President Harry S. Truman signed the legislation making June 14 the official, annual flag day. Sixty years later in 2004, Congress concluded that Flag Day had its origins in Waubeka, Wisc., home of Bernard Cigrand.

3. Betsy Ross May Not Have Sewn the First Flag

Most children are taught that Betsy Ross was the seamstress who sewed together the first flag, but in reality there is no historical evidence to prove it. 

4. The Flag Has Official Colors

The Color Association of the U.S defined the official flag colors as "White," "Old Glory Red" and "Old Glory Blue," colors that are only able to be reproduced on cloth. 

5. The U.S Flag is the Third Oldest Original Flag Still in Use

Though the United States became a nation far after many European countries, its national flag is the third oldest of the National Standards of the world behind only those of Denmark and Austria. The U.S flag is older than the Union Jack of Britain or the Tricolor of France. 

6. There Are Six Flags on the Moon

We've heard of the man on the moon, but what about the flag on the moon? There are currently six U.S flags in outer space — Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17 each put one on the moon. 

7. The Nickname, "Old Glory," Refers to a Specific Flag

The flag's nickname "Old Glory," actually refers to a specific flag owned by Captain William Driver. Old Glory accompanied the Captain on all of his voyages. After Driver died, the original Old Glory was sent to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, where it is currently preserved under glass.

8. Each Year, the President Must Proclaim Flag Day

In 1949, Congress issued a joint resolution stating that the president must issue a proclamation each year calling for the national observance of the flag, and that it must be displayed on all federal government buildings. On June 7, President Obama issued this year's Presidential Proclamation of Flag Day and National Flag Week.

9. The Flag Shares its Birthday With the U.S Army

Coincidentally, the flag shares its birthday with the U.S Army. The army, however, was founded on June 14, 1775, two years before the flag was born. 

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Hannah Loewentheil

I am a Senior at Brown University where I am studying international relations and non-fiction writing. Follow me on twitter @hrl792.

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