Flag Day 2018 Facts: Here's the History Behind the Holiday

Most historians agree that the time-honored tradition of celebrating the United States flag began more than 100 years ago. Before it went national, the first celebrations happened on a local scale—so the exact date is hard to pin down.

A resolution was signed by America's brand new Congress on June 14, 1777, that finalized the flag's design. It said that the flag should have "thirteen stripes of alternate red and white, with a union of thirteen stars of white in a blue field, representing the new constellation."

That flag was first used in battle a few months later, on September 11 of the same year, but it took years after that for the flag to get its own holiday. It wasn't until 1959 that the flag was designed with the 50 stars it has today.

First reports of a flag day celebration came out of Hartford, Connecticut, in the 1860s. Around that time, schools all over the country were holding Flag Day celebrations in the hopes of making immigrant children feel more connected to the country.

These individual school celebrations were then adopted in communities as well. In 1889, the principal at a kindergarten school in New York City, George Bolch, arranged a Flag Day celebration. The move got the attention of the federal government and a national celebration was arranged.

It wasn't until President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day in 1916 that it had any official status nationally. In 1949, following the end of the war, Congress officially made June 14 National Flag Day.

While it is a nationally recognized holiday, it's not a federal holiday like Veterans Day or Memorial Day is. So nationally, banks aren't closed and the post office is open as it usually would be. The state of Pennsylvania, however, recognizes the holiday as a state holiday.

Each year, the president proclaims June 14 as Flag Day—President Donald Trump did so last week with an official announcement—and this year it falls during National Flag Week. Trump's birthday also happens to fall on Flag Day.

"As we raise our flag, let us resolve always to cherish it with reverence and eternal gratitude so that the red, white, and blue may forever wave from sea to shining sea," the proclamation from the White House said.

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Thursday is Flag Day in the United States. An American flag is displayed during a practice round prior to the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on June 12, 2018 in Southampton, New York. Andrew Redington/Getty Images