flag day

Everything You Need to Know About Flag Day 2021

June 14 marks the annual observance of the flag’s first introduction

A man walks along a street where U.S. flags fly.
Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

If you notice more American flags than usual flying today, it may not be a coincidence: June 14 marks Flag Day, the annual observance celebrating the adoption of the flag of the United States and the birthday of the U.S. Army.

On Friday, President Joe Biden issued a proclamation calling for the day's observance. 

“As we continue the sacred work of building a more perfect Union together, let our flag serve as a reminder to us, and to the world, that America stands for and strives for the promise of freedom, justice, and equality for all," Biden said. 

All federal government buildings will display the flag this week — but what does this date mean for you? 

What is Flag Day? Why is it on June 14?

Flag Day is celebrated annually on June 14 to commemorate the anniversary of the adoption of the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the United States. It was adopted by the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. 

The first "American" flag was created in 1775 when the Continental Army was established to fight against the British during the American Revolution, according to HISTORY.com. It consisted of red and white altering stripes and a Union Jack in the corner. Not wanting the new nation's flag to bare a resemblance to the British one, George Washington called for the creation of a new symbol. 

It was resolved during the Second Continental Congress that, "the flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation."

As more states entered the Union, additional stars were added. In all, there have been 27 official versions of the flag, according to the Library of Congress.

The color red on the flag represents valor and bravery, the blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice, and the white signifies purity and innocence.  

Though the Continental Congress unveiled the flag 244 years ago, the date went unobserved until its 100th anniversary on June 14, 1877.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation officially establishing June 14 as Flag Day, but it wasn’t until August 1949 when President Harry Truman signed a resolution making Flag Day a permanent observance.  

Are banks open today? Will mail arrive?

Because Flag Day is not a federal holiday, schools and banks should remain open, as should the postal service. 

While New York recognizes Flag Day on the second Sunday in June as a state holiday, all state offices are also open. Pennsylvania is the only state to recognize June 14 as a state holiday. 

How to Fly the American Flag

The flag should be displayed on or near the main building of public institutions, schools during school days, and polling places on election days. It should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously, according to USA.gov.

When displaying the flag from a staff that is projecting from your home or porch, place the union (blue section) at the peak of the staff.

If the flag is against a wall or hanging over a window, is should be displayed flat with the union at the top left corner.

When placing it on your vehicle, clamp the staff to the right front fender.

When displayed with another flag against a wall from crossed staffs, place the U.S. flag to your left. Its staff should also be in front of the other flag’s staff. In a group of flags displayed from staffs, the U.S. flag should be at the center and the highest point.

The flag shouldn’t be flown in inclement weather unless it’s an all-weather flag. Flags displayed at night should be properly illuminated.

When to Fly the American Flag

Traditional guidelines call for displaying the flag in public from sunrise to sunset. However, the flag may be displayed at all times if it's illuminated during darkness.

The flag can be flown every day but it is often flown to show patriotism on these observances: New Year’s Day, Inauguration Day, Lincoln’s Birthday, Washington’s Birthday, Armed Forces Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Patriot Day, Constitution Day, Columbus Day, Navy Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. On Memorial Day, the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon.

The flag is also traditional flown at half-staff to honor a newly deceased federal or state government official by order of the president or the governor, respectively. 

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