What is Flag Day?


Photograph taken by Beverly Hand on May 28th, 2012.

Flag Day is a day commemorating the adoption of the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the United States.Old Glory is 235 years old today! Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag in 1776.On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress approved the flag design as having 13 alternating red and white stripes with a union of 13 white stars on a blue field. The Flag Day holiday itself was created in 1916 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation. It’s not a federal holiday. Pennsylvania is the only state to observe the day officially.Title 4 of the U.S. Code, commonly known as “the Flag Code”, details the proper manner for handling, displaying and disposing of the flag. Among the rules, the flag never should touch the ground, should not be used as a covering for a ceiling or worn as a garment, and should not be used for advertising. The flag should be “hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.” If the flag is flown at night, it should be illuminated. It should be displayed in or near every school and polling station.

No other flag should be displayed above the flag. No flag should be displayed to the right of the flag if the two flags are on the same level. A foreign flag should be flown on its own pole and be the same size as the U.S. flag. If the flag is flown vertically, the union field of stars should be uppermost and to the observer’s left. “The flag represents a living country, and is itself considered a living thing,” the code says. Yet dishonoring the flag has no penalties. In fact, a 1989 Supreme Court decision in the case Texas v. Johnson, upheld flag desecration as protected speech. Nevertheless, resolutions were introduced last year in both houses of Congress to amend the Constitution to prohibit desecration. Civil liberties advocates oppose the legislation. Policing of flag etiquette is left to neighborhood patriots.

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