History of Flag
Day & More
The Fourth of July was traditionally
Following the suggestion of Colonel J Granville Leach (at the time historian of the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolution), the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames of America on April 25, 1893 adopted a resolution requesting the mayor of Philadelphia and all others in authority and all private citizens to display the Flag on June 14th. Leach went on to recommend that thereafter the day be known as 'Flag Day', and on that day, school children be assembled for appropriate exercises, with each child being given a small Flag.
Two weeks later on May 8th, the Board of
Managers of the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution unanimously
endorsed the action of the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames. As a result
of the resolution, Dr. Edward Brooks, then Superintendent of Public Schools of
Philadelphia, directed that Flag Day exercises be held on
In 1894, the governor of
Adults, too, participated in patriotic programs. Franklin K. Lane, Secretary if the Interior, delivered a 1914 Flag Day address in which he repeated words he said the flag had spoken to him that morning: "I am what you make me; nothing more. I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of color, a symbol of yourself."
Inspired by these three decades of state
and local celebrations, Flag Day - the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of
1777 - was officially established by the Proclamation of President
Woodrow Wilson on
MORE ON OUR
ALMANAC: Code of Etiquette for Display and Use of
Reviewed by National Flag Foundation
Although the Stars and Stripes originated
in 1777, it was not until 146 years later that there was a serious attempt to
establish a uniform code of etiquette for the
When to Display the Flag—The flag should be displayed on all days,
especially on legal holidays and other special occasions, on official buildings
when in use, in or near polling places on election days, and in or near schools
when in session. Citizens may fly the flag at any time. It is customary to
display it only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary
flagstaffs in the open. It may be displayed at night, however, on special
occasions, preferably lighted. The flag now flies over the White House both day
and night. It flies over the Senate wing of the Capitol when the Senate is in
session and over the House wing when that body is in session. It flies day and
night over the east and west fronts of the Capitol, without floodlights at
night but receiving illumination from the Capitol Dome. It flies 24 hours a day
at several other places, including the
Flying the Flag at Half-Staff—Flying the flag at half-staff, that is, halfway up the staff, is a signal of mourning. The flag should be hoisted to the top of the staff for an instant before being lowered to half-staff. It should be hoisted to the peak again before being lowered for the day or night.
As provided by presidential proclamation, the flag should fly at half-staff for 30 days from the day of death of a president or former president; for 10 days from the day of death of a vice president, chief justice or retired chief justice of the U.S., or speaker of the House of Representatives; from day of death until burial of an associate justice of the Supreme Court, cabinet member, former vice president, Senate president pro tempore, or majority or minority Senate or House leader; for a U.S. senator, representative, territorial delegate, or the resident commissioner of Puerto Rico, on day of death and the following day within the metropolitan area of the District of Columbia and from day of death until burial within the decedent's state, congressional district, territory or commonwealth; and for the death of the governor of a state, territory, or possession of the U.S., from day of death until burial.
On Memorial Day, the flag should fly at
half-staff until and then be raised to the peak. The flag should also fly at
half-staff on Korean War Veterans Armistice Day (July 27), National
How to Fly the Flag—The flag should
be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously and should never be allowed to
touch the ground or the floor. When the flag is hung over a sidewalk from a
rope extending from a building to a pole, the union should be away from the
building. When the flag is hung over the center of a street the union should be
to the north in an east-
When 2 flags are placed against a wall
with crossed staffs, the
Church and Platform Use—In an auditorium, the flag may be displayed flat, above and behind the speaker. When displayed from a staff in a church or in a public auditorium, the flag should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience, and in the position of honor at the speaker's right as she or he faces the audience. Any other flag so displayed should be placed on the left of the speaker or to the right of the audience.
When the flag is displayed horizontally or vertically against a wall, the stars should be uppermost and at the observer's left.
When used to cover a casket, the flag should be placed so that the union is at the head and over the left shoulder. It should not be lowered into the grave nor touch the ground.
How to Dispose of Worn Flags—When the flag is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, it should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.
When to Salute the Flag—All persons present should face the flag, stand at attention, and salute on the following occasions: (1) when the flag is passing in a parade or in a review, (2) during the ceremony of hoisting or lowering, (3) when the national anthem is played, and (4) during the Pledge of Allegiance. Those present in uniform should render the military salute. Those not in uniform should place the right hand over the heart. A man wearing a hat should remove it with his right hand and hold it to his left shoulder during the salute.
Prohibited Uses of the Flag—The flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. (An exception—customarily, ships salute by dipping their colors.) It should never be displayed with the union down save as a distress signal. It should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
It should not be displayed on a float, an automobile, or a boat except from a staff. It should never be used as a covering for a ceiling, nor have placed on it any word, design, or drawing. It should never be used as a receptacle for carrying anything. It should not be used to cover a statue or a monument.
The flag should never be used for advertising purposes, nor be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs, printed or otherwise impressed on boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard; or used as a costume or athletic uniform. Advertising signs should not be fastened to its staff or halyard.
The flag should never be used as drapery of any sort, never festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above and the white in the middle, should be used for covering a speaker's desk, draping the front of a platform, and for decoration in general.
An act of Congress approved on
The Supreme Court, in June 1990, declared that a new federal law making it a crime to burn or deface the American flag violated the free-speech guarantee of the First Amendment. The 5-4 Court decision led to renewed calls in Congress for a constitutional amendment to make it possible to prosecute flag burners.
Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the
This, the current official version of the
Pledge of Allegiance, has developed from the original pledge, which was first
published in the
The authorship of the pledge was in dispute for many years. The Youth's Companion stated in 1917 that the original draft was written by James B. Upham, an executive of the magazine who died in 1910. A leaflet circulated by the magazine later named Upham as the originator of the draft “afterwards condensed and perfected by him and his associates of the Companion force.”
Francis Bellamy, a former member of Youth's Companion editorial staff, publicly claimed authorship of the pledge in 1923. In 1939, the United States Flag Association, acting on the advice of a committee named to study the controversy, upheld the claim of Bellamy, who had died 8 years earlier. In 1957 the Library of Congress issued a report attributing the authorship to Bellamy.