The Day America Adopted Stars and Stripes

The Day America Adopted Stars and Stripes

June 14, 2016 

Nashville, TN

Today is National Flag Day! This little known holiday has a long and interesting history. Over two centuries ago, on June 14th, 1777, Congress adopted the flag we all hold near and dear, embroidered with stars and stripes, as the flag of the United States of America. 

Flag Day, however, would not be recognized or celebrated until over a century later. On this exact day in 1885, 19-year-old High School teacher Bernard J. Cigrand placed a ten inch, 38-star flag in a bottle on his desk. He told his students about the significance of this day and asked them to write essays about what the flag meant to them. 

It was the first time anyone had commemorated the day we adopted the greatest and most enduring symbol of our country. Cigrand later committed his life's work to bringing about a national recognition of this historic day. His work paid off on May 30, 1916, when President Wilson issued a proclamation calling for a nationwide observance of Flag Day. 

The holiday became official 30 years later when President Truman signed an Act Of Congress designating the 14th day of June every year as National Flag Day.

Today, The National Flag Day Foundation fights to keep the holiday relevant and continuously celebrated. The foundation aims to "teach Americanism, using Flag history, enlisting 4-H groupsVFW,Scouts and other patriots to teach the lessons of our great flag.

Here in Nashville, we hold two distinct connections to the American Flag that can be celebrated on this day. First is Major George Armistead. Armistead is most famously known for commissioning The Star Spangled Banner, the two-by-40-foot garrison flag, bearing 15 stars and 15 stripes, from Baltimore flagmaker Mary Pickersgill and her family. She was paid $45.90 to sew “a flag so large that the British will have no difficulty in seeing it from a distance.”

While Armistead landed in Virginia when journeying to The States from London, some of his offspring later settled in Nashville, and many of his direct descendants live here still.

The second connection is Capt. William Driver. Driver, who lived in Nashville during the Civil War Era, is known for coining the term "Old Glory." Nashvillians interested in celebrating the city's rich history with Flag Day can go visit Driver's grave in our old Nashville City Cemetery

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