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It's Not Only Flag Day - It's Flag Week

J. Scott Applewhite

June 14 is the day chosen by Congress in 1949 as Flag Day in the U.S., an action officially signed into law by President Harry Truman. But it's not just a single day - the observance lasts for a week.

In this year's official proclamation, President Obama notes in 1966, Congress asked "that the President annually issue a proclamation designating the week in which June 14 occurs as "National Flag Week" and call upon citizens of the United States to display the flag during that week."

Obama is asking Americans to fly their flags for longer than that - through July 4. He's urging Americans to celebrate their U.S. heritage and find a chance to publicly say the Pledge of Allegiance.

The National Flag Day Foundation credits Wisconsin school teacher Bernard Cigrand with promoting the concept of Flag Day in the1880s; by 1916, President Woodrow Wilson first announced a national U.S. flag observance day, notes the Chicago Tribune.

At the time of Wilson's declaration, the American flag displayed six horizontal rows of stars of eight each, according to the Smithsonian Institution. It wasn't until 1959 that President Eisenhower's executive order set up nine rows of stars horizontally staggered and 11 rows of stars staggered vertically. Of course, each time a state joined the union, a new star is added.

Of course, whenever flags are mentioned, Betsy Ross comes to mind. The Philadelphia seamstress put together the earliest Stars and Stripes for the Continental Army in the 1776, notes the U.S. Archives. The flag that inspired 'The Star Spangled Banner' in 1812 was actually sewn by Mary Pickersgill, a Baltimore flagmaker, who wasn't born until 1776, says the Smithsonian.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Korva Coleman is a newscaster for NPR.
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