School may be out for your little ones, but today’s a grand day for a little learning about Old Glory.
That’s because June 14 is Flag Day, which commemorates the date in 1777 when the Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the United States. In honor of the day, we’ve gathered some fresh, fun, unusual facts you can share with your kids to spark their curiosity about this historic symbol of our country.
Our list includes 13 facts, one for each stripe of the flag!
- The story that Betsy Ross created the first U.S. flag began circulating around the time of the Centennial, in 1876, promoted by her family members. However, it is now believed that Francis Hopkinson, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, actually designed that first flag.
- It was a 17-year-old boy who designed our current flag. We needed a new design as Hawaii was about to join the union. Bob Heft arranged the 50 stars and 13 stripes in the pattern we know today as a high school project. His teacher only gave him a B- on it!
- Vexillology is the official word for “the study of flags.”
- Six U.S. flags have been planted on the moon, between 1969 and 1972. An article published April 11, 2017 in the Washington Examiner reports that 5 still stand, but are now bleached bone white by the constant exposure to sun.
- One U.S. state flag has a Union Jack incorporated into it. Can you use your knowledge of history to figure out which state? (Answer is at the bottom of this post.)
- While we in the U.S. love our Red, White, and Blue, we won’t win any prizes for originality. There are 37 other countries with red, white, and blue flags, including Australia, Chile, Slovenia, Thailand, Iceland, and Nepal. As a fun geography project, challenge your children to find all 37 of these countries on a map. See the full list of countries at Wikipedia.
- Nepal is the only country in the modern world that does not have a rectangular national flag. Its red, white, and blue flag has an unusual double-triangle shape, to symbolize the Himalaya Mountains.So Nepal’s flag does deserve a prize for originality!
- Bernard Cigrand (born in 1866) is considered the father of Flag Day in the United States. As a teenaged grade school teacher in 1885, Cigrand held the first recognized formal observance of Flag Day at Stony Hill School in Waubeka, Wisconsin.
- After 30 years of Cigrand’s advocacy, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day in 1916.
- That makes this year the 101st anniversary of Flag Day!
- A U.S. flag has been waving continuously underwater for the past 15 years, on the now sunken USS Spiegle Grove, at Key Largo, Florida. This video is cued up to show the flag, which appears again at the 2:22 mark.
- The design of the U.S. flag has been modified officially 26 times since 1777, as new states joined the Union. Since 1818, all new flag designs have been introduced on July 4.
- Our current 50-star flag is the longest-used version of the U.S. flag, for over 56 years and counting!
Finally: The state flag that features the Union Jack is… Hawaii! The flag was originally designed at the request of King Kamehameha I, in 1816, when Hawaii was an independent kingdom. It incorporates the Union Jack to honor Hawaii’s friendship with Britain and the British royal family.
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