Star-spangled banner still waves boldly as always, Flag Day reminds Americans

From representing 13 colonies in 1777 to 50 states today, U.S. flag has gone through scores of changes as it continues to wave o'er land of free, home of brave

By Ehren Wynder
The American flag has gone through 27 variations before the current 50 stars and 13 stripes. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
The American flag has gone through 27 variations before the current 50 stars and 13 stripes. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

June 13 (UPI) -- Today is Flag Day, and while Americans typically don't get the day off, it's still a holiday worth celebrating.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Flag Day marks the anniversary of June 14, 1777, when the Continental Congress approved the first design for the American flag, which at the time featured 13 stripes and 13 stars to symbolize the 13 colonies.


"Resolved, that the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation," the resolution read.

The original flag was first flown on Sept. 11, 1777, at the Battle of the Brandywine during the Revolutionary War and came into more regular use as the war continued, according to the VA.

The flag has since gone through 27 variations, with the most recent iteration featuring 50 stars for the 50 states and 13 stripes for the 13 original colonies.


The origin of Flag Day, itself, is hotly debated, with multiple states claiming to have begun the tradition. According to the VA, New York has the "most recognized claim" from1889, when a city principal had his school host patriotic ceremonies dedicated to the 1777 resolution.

President Harry Truman in 1949 signed into law a bill making Flag Day a day of "national observance."

Flag Day is observed every year on June 14.

Flag Day, however, is not a federal holiday, meaning banks, schools and government offices such as the Post Office will remain open.

But the holiday still inspires patriotic demonstrations such as parades, ceremonies and essay contests throughout the United States.

NASA on Thursday published on its website "One Small Flag's Incredible Journey," a short story for students grades 5 through 8 that recounts the journey of the small American flag that flew on space shuttle Columbia's first and last missions and journeyed to the International Space Station.

According to the U.S. Flag Code, the American flag should always fly freely and never touch anything beneath it. It should never be worn as an article of clothing, but American flag patches can be worn on the uniforms of military, firefighters, police and members of patriotic organizations.


The flag should never be displayed or stored in a way that could cause it be easily damaged or soiled. When a flag is no longer fit for display, it should be retired in a "dignified" manner.

Organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion regularly conduct dignified flag-burning ceremonies for such an occasion.

Notable for our times, U.S. code also forbids the flying of the flag upside down except as a sign of distress.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito recently came under fire for an upside-down flag that flew over his property shortly after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

The upside-down flag also was flown by supporters of Donald Trump who believed the 2020 presidential election was stolen and has been interpreted as a symbol for pro-Trump insurrectionists.

Alito, however, claimed his wife flew the flag upside down over a dispute she had with a neighbor.

American Legion National Commander Daniel Seehafer in a statement to NBC News said the flag should never be displayed upside down, "except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property."

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