- (Photo: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)
Flag Day is being celebrated on Friday as a means to honor the adoption of the American flag as well as the birthday of the United States Army.
The red, white and blue flag has served as a symbol of freedom for over 200 years since its adoption on June 15, 1777, and Flag Day is rooted in American citizens' pride in their country.
Observed each year on June 15, the patriotic celebration sees events such as parades and musical salutes that support local military units and recognize the significance of the stars and stripes.
Flag Day also serves as a reminder of United States veterans, past and present, who have served to protect the flag and everything is stands for.
The beloved and world-renowned American flag has several nicknames that include the "Stars and Stripes," "Old Glory," and "The Star-Spangled Banner."
America's birthday on the Fourth of July, Flag Day is specifically intended for celebrating The Star Spangled Banner.
In light of Flag Day 2013, The Christian Post has compiled some facts about the American flag.
It consists of thirteen equal horizontal stripes of red and alternating while. In the top left corner is a blue rectangle referred to specifically as the "union," which bears 50 white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars alternating with rows of five stars.
Betsy Ross, an apprentice upholsterer, is credited with sewing the nation's first flag.
Before President William Taft issued an executive order in 1912 dictating the proportions for the flag and the placement of the stars, features on the flag were left up to the flagmaker, resulting in an unusual star arrangement and varying proportions.
The national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner," is based on a 15-star, 15-stripe flag, but the U.S. flag has seen 26 modifications since its initial adoption. Today's 50-star flag, created in 1960, has been in use the longest and remains today.
The U.S. Code, a compilation of general and permanent laws, includes very specific rules about how the American flag should be displayed. One chapter details how fast the flag should be hoisted while another indicates how high it should be flown.
Most importantly, the code mandates the proper retirement of a flag.
"The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning," the code states.
While burning an American flag seems like an act of rebellion and disrespect, many organizations host flag-retirement observances that include burning, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Other organizations such as the American Legion, the Boy Scouts of America, and the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. have special guidelines for handling and retiring a flag.
Additionally, Friday's Flag Day marks the U.S. Army's 238th birthday and is exactly 59 years after the U.S. added "Under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance.