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Happy Birthday to Old Glory & The United States Army!

By, Michelle Hazekamp

June 14, 2023

Happy Birthday!

While our nation celebrates many significant events regarding our founding and history, June 14 should be considered one of the most patriotic days in America. Not only is it Flag Day, celebrating the adoption of the Stars and Stripes as the official U.S. flag, but it’s also the birthday of one of the United States’ most trusted institutions: the Army.

How Flag Day was Born

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed a resolution adopting a flag for our new Nation — the United States of America. The resolution specified 13 alternating red and white stripes with 13 stars on a blue field. The stars represented the colonies that declared independence. In the years since, they have grown into 50 United States which comprise our great country today.

Continental Congress Flag Resolution:

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

The Flag Resolution did not specify any particular arrangement for the stars. The so-called Betsy Ross flag is the legendary design, however, popular designs at the time were varied and most were individually crafted rather than mass-produced. Given the scant archeological and written evidence, it is unknown which design was the most popular at that time. The Betsy Ross design itself is the oldest version of any US flag to appear on any physical relic.

"Flag Day" is the commemoration of the day our flag was adopted. The history of how Flag Day came to be was an effort from multiple men throughout the years of history by urging Americans & Congress to proclaim June 14 as Flag Day.

Early records show that the first person to promote a day of recognition for our flag was a Wisconsin school teacher by the name of Bernard J. Cigrand. In 1885, he urged his students to observe June 14 as “Flag Birthday.” He later wrote an essay published in a Chicago newspaper that urged Americans to proclaim this date as the day to celebrate the flag. A lesser-known claim is that of George Morris of Connecticut, who is said to have organized the first formal celebration of the day in Hartford in 1861. And another effort in formalizing an honorary flag day was in 1888 by William T. Kerr of Pennsylvania who founded the American Flag Day Association of Western Pennsylvania.

Flag Day did not become official until 1949 when the U.S. Congress permanently established the date as National Flag Day. Although Flag Day is not an official federal holiday, Pennsylvania celebrates the day as a state holiday, and each year the U.S. president delivers an address that proclaims the week of June 14 as National Flag Week, while all Americans are encouraged to fly U.S. flags during that week.

Here are some interesting historical facts about our American Flag:

  1. This flag was first used in the battle on Sept. 11, 1777, during the battle of the Brandywine.

  2. The American flag was first saluted by foreign naval vessels on Feb. 14, 1778 when the Ranger, bearing the Stars & Stripes under the command of Captain Paul Jones arrived in a French port.

  3. The flag first flew over a foreign territory in early 1778 at Nassau, Bahama Islands, where Americans captured a British fort.

  4. The flag adopted on June 14, 1777, replaced the "Grand Union Flag," the first-ever national flag of what would become the United States.

  5. The Grand Union Flag featured the same 13 alternating red and white stripes as the current U.S. flag; but instead of the blue field of stars in the canton, the flag had a small British Union Flag of 1606.

  6. Since the adoption of the "Stars and Stripes" flag, the design has undergone many changes. There have been a total of 27 official versions of the American flag, says the Smithsonian Institution.

  7. While the U.S. flag was adopted in 1777, it was not until June 24, 1912, that the actual design of the flag was codified.

The Birth of an Army

The birth of the U.S. Army was a fairly quick development once the Revolutionary War began, and was created within two months of the onset of the war.

Because England was imposing high taxes on the colonist to help cover the costs of the Indian wars, tensions grew between the two. The Colonists viewed these acts as an infringement on their civil liberties and groups such as the Sons of Liberty formed to fight back against British control.

When the Sons of Liberty dumped 342 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor, known as "The Boston Tea Party" on December 16, 1773, it only further increased tensions and encounters between the two entities became violent. On April 19, 1775, what began as a civil disturbance quickly transformed into open warfare in the Battle of Lexington & Concord. This began the Revolutionary War.

Because the colonies were subjects of England, their only army was the British forces they were fighting against. The colonist knew they were not trained or equipped for the type of warfare that had besieged them. They needed a force of professional soldiers who were trained, funded and equipped for extended military maneuvers and therefore appealed to the delegates of the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

On June 14, 1775, the Congress passed a resolution forming the Continental Army. Delegates soon began to debate over who would be appointed Commander in Chief of the Continental forces. Although John Hancock was expecting to be nominated for the position, George Washington received the nomination instead, and on June 15, 1775, became the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. Washington gave his acceptance speech to Congress on June 16th and soon after, forces from several colonies gathered in Cambridge and Boston to become the founding core of our first army.

As men gathered to enlist in the newly formed army, they were sworn in with the first oath written by Congress:

“I have, this day, voluntarily enlisted myself, as a soldier, in the American continental army, for one year, unless sooner discharged: And I do bind myself to conform, in all instances, to such rules and regulations, as are, or shall be, established for the government of the said Army.”

This year marks the 248th birthday of America’s Army serving and protecting the nation. The Army commemorates this birthday by: “Honoring the Courage of the American Soldier.” It highlights compelling stories of Soldiers from Active, Guard and Reserve components, as well as Army Families, Army Civilians, retirees and veteran Soldiers for Life. It also celebrates the courage of Army Soldiers to stand behind their oath to protect the American Way of life, a commitment that is part of the Army’s legacy.

American Soldiers have a strong bond with the American flag, not only by sharing a birthday, but also because the flag is the symbol by which they pledge their life to defend freedom. We are truly a special nation by which we have had blessings bestowed upon us such as this day!

Happy Birthday to the United States Army & the U.S. Flag!

We salute & appreciate ALL Veterans who have served under the glorious Red, White & Blue!



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