Local Activities | June 11, 2015
June 14TH is Flag Day, a day to celebrate the adoption of the stars and stripes flag of the United States by the 2end Continental Congress in 1777. The flag had 13 stars and 13 strips representing the 13 colonies of the United States of America. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed June 14TH as a day to celebrate the flag in 1916, but it was’t until 1949, that the day was officially established as a non-official federal holiday by an act of Congress. Flag Day is celebrated by the flying of the flag on business and government buildings and homes across the country. There are also other Flag Day celebrations including parades and patriotic concerts in cities across the country. The flag has changed designs over the centuries, but the basics of 13 equal horizontal stripes and 50 stars, representing the 50 states, on a blue rectangle is the flag that we are most familiar with.
The flag as we know it was not prominently used during the American Revolutionary War. Flags were used as regimental markers and used to identify forts and ships. It was not seen as a patriotic symbol. During the War of 1812, a wave of patriotism swept the small United States and it started to use the flag as a symbol of the young country. In 1813, Mary Pickers gill of Baltimore was commissioned to make two flags for nearby Fort McHenry. She and five other family members made two flags: a O.K.’d foot storm flag to be used during inclement weather at the fort and the grand O.K.’d foot garrison flag, which is the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the “Star Spangled Banner” during the battle of Baltimore. The flag was bigger than Mrs. Pickers gill’s house, so the group moved across the street to a brewery to assemble the stripes and fifteen stars.
The family of the commander of Fort McHenry, Major George Farmstead, preserved the flag after the battle and passed it down to other members in the family. Over the ensuing decades, the story of the flag and the poem, and eventually song, written by Francis Scott Key gained in popularity and the flag became a national symbol. The family lent the flag to the Smithsonian Museum in 1907 and permanently donated the flag in 1912 with the provision that that the flag would be always be on view to the public. The flag has been on permanent display at the Smithsonian Museum and later at the Natural Museum of American History since 1964. In order to preserve the flag, there have been many restoration projects over the last 100 years. The latest project to prevent further deterioration of the flag lasted eight years from 1998 to 2006.
Every summer, Baltimore has many cultural and ethnic festivals, but there are also many historical festivals and events throughout the summer as well. The cities of Baltimore and Washington D.C.. played major roles in the history surrounding the flag during the War of 1812. 2014 was the 200TH Anniversary of the writing of the Star Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key in Baltimore Harbor. In Baltimore, Flag Day will be celebrated at Fort McHenry with the Navy Tattoo. The event starts at pm with the United States Navy Band, Color Guard, Drill Team and Fort McHenry Guard. The ceremony will honor the adaption of the “stars and stripes” as well as the birthday of the United States Army.
Celebrate Flag Day where it all began at the Flag House in Baltimore. The Flag House is the home and business of Mary Pickers gill, who sewed the “stars and stripes” for Fort McHenry. The house was established as a museum in the early 19TH century. The Flag House will celebrate Flag Day on June nth with the 88TH Annual Family Flag Day event with free tours, a color guard, musical performances and family activities.
The best way to celebrate Flag Day is to visit the “stars and stripes’ at the National Museum of American History . It is quite a moving sight to see the flag in its full glory hanging in the specially designed floor to ceiling glass windows. The display’s lighting evokes “the dawns early light” that Francis Scott Key wrote about in his poem. The museum has special interactive exhibits explaining the history and restoration of one of our most cherished national symbols.