With June being the month where we celebrate Flag Day, let’s take a look at some of the history of the evolution of our Stars and Stripes. Until the Executive Order of June 24, 1912, neither the order of the stars nor the proportions of the flag were prescribed. Consequently, flags dating before this period sometimes show unusual arrangements of the stars and odd proportions, these features being left to the discretion of the flag maker. In general, however, straight rows of stars and proportions like those later adopted officially were used. The principal acts affecting the flag of the United States are the following:
- On June 14, 1777, in order to establish an official flag for the new nation, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act: “Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union is thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”
- Act of January 13, 1794 – provided for 15 stripes and 15 stars after May 1795.
- Act of April 4, 1818 – provided for 13 stripes and one star for each state, to be added to the flag on the 4th of July following the admission of each new state, signed by President Monroe.
- Executive Order of President Taft dated June 24, 1912 – established proportions of the flag and provided for arrangement of the stars in six horizontal rows of eight each, a single point of each star to be upward.
- Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated January 3, 1959 (after Alaska joined the Union) – provided for the arrangement of the stars in seven rows of seven stars each, staggered horizontally and vertically. The current flag was designed in 1958 by a 17-year-old high school student, Robert G. Heft, of Lancaster, Ohio. President Eisenhower chose his design out of 1,500 entries. It was submitted as a 50-star flag because of an assignment giving by Heft’s teacher in high school to design one including Alaska and Hawaii.
- Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated August 21, 1959 (after Hawaii) – provided for the arrangement of the stars in nine rows of stars staggered horizontally and eleven rows of stars staggered vertically.
And what about the holiday? On May 30, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation establishing Flag Day as the anniversary of the Flag Resolution. On August 3, 1949, President Truman signed an Act of Congress that designated June 14 of each year as National Flag Day.