Flag Day has arrived on Thursday to commemorate the flag of the United States of America.
- (Photo: Reuters/Eric Thayer)
The event takes place across the country each year on June 14. It is believed that June 14, 1777 is the official date the nation adopted the flag.
A beloved and world-renowned symbol, nicknames for the flag include the "Stars and Stripes," "Old Glory," and "The Star-Spangled Banner."
It consists of thirteen equal horizontal stripes of red and alternating white. In the top left corner is a blue rectangle in canton referred to specifically as the "union," which bears fifty white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars alternating with rows of five stars.
Opposite of America's birthday on the Fourth of July, Flag Day is specifically intended for celebrating The Star-Spangled Banner.
Credited with sewing the nation's first flag, Betsy Ross was an apprentice to an upholsterer.
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 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 been modified 26 times 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.
Ceremonies often include an honor guard, patriotic music, readings, and speeches highlighting the flag or its history.
Thursday marks the flag's 108th "birthday," and Americans everywhere are celebrating. Many Twitter users posted their respect for the national emblem as well as their plans to celebrate Flag Day, with "Happy Flag Day" becoming a trending topic on the social media site.
The Walker Police Department in Louisiana posted, "Today is Flag Day, a day when Americans honor Old Glory, the symbol of strength, perseverance, freedom, equality."
"Flag Day today," posted James. "Wave your American Flag. God bless America."
"Happy Flag Day everyone," wrote the Oxy Skin Care company. "Like this if you have a flag waving proudly at home, where you work, or where you go to school!"
Thursday also marks 58 years since the U.S. added "Under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance, and is the U.S. Army turns 237 years old today.