In honor of Flag Day, we put together a short history of the holiday. Flag Day commemorates the day when the flag’s design — complete with 13 alternating red and white stripes and 13 white stars over blue — was finalized in 1777.

Schools planted the seed

Many think Flag Day started because of a New York City public school teacher who had his kindergarten class observe the anniversary of the flag. That’s what professor George Bolch did in 1889 to help immigrant children feel more connected to the country. The move attracted the attention of the New York Department of Education, which loved the idea so much that it said the day should be observed in all public schools. Then, in 1897, New York’s governor ordered the display of the flag in all public school buildings.

Three presidents later

Two presidents issued proclamations asking for June 14 to be observed as National Flag Day: Woodrow Wilson in 1916 and Calvin Coolidge in 1927. But it wasn’t until 1949 that Congress permanently established June 14 as National Flag Day, under President Harry Truman.

It’s not a federal holiday

Flag Day still isn’t a federal holiday, though some states, like Pennsylvania, celebrate it as a state holiday.

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