The Fourth of July was traditionally celebrated as America’s birthday, but the idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the Flag is believed to have first originated in 1885. BJ Cigrand, a schoolteacher, arranged for the pupils in the Fredonia, Wisconsin Public School, District 6, to observe June 14 (the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes) as ‘Flag Birthday’. In numerous magazines and newspaper articles and public addresses over the following years, Cigrand continued to enthusiastically advocate the observance of June 14 as ‘Flag Birthday’, or ‘Flag Day’.
On June 14, 1889, George Balch, a kindergarten teacher in New York City, planned appropriate ceremonies for the children of his school, and his idea of observing Flag Day was later adopted by the State Board of Education of New York. On June 14, 1891, the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia held a Flag Day celebration, and on June 14 of the following year, the New York Society of the Sons of the Revolution, celebrated Flag Day.
Most every day is Flag Day for Philly seamstresses
By Kathy Matheson, AP
PHILADELPHIA — Move over, Betsy Ross. There’s a new generation of flag makers in Philadelphia.
Tucked away in a room at a military supply operation, a dozen seamstresses are responsible for hand-embroidering the U.S. presidential flags.
The dark blue standard, emblazoned with an eagle encircled in stars, denotes the presence of the nation’s leader. It is often seen near the American flag during presidential speeches and other public appearances.
A quiet sewing room at the Defense Logistics Agency is about 10 miles from the house where Betsy Ross is believed to have sewn the first U.S. flag, and is the only place the banners are made.
Thursday is Flag Day, marking the date in 1777 when Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes.
“I think Betsy would be pretty impressed that what she started has evolved into this 200-some years later,” heraldics supervisor Lisa Marie Vivino said.
The supply shop, which also provides the military with equipment, clothing and food, has been producing flags since the 1850s. Production today includes brigade and battalion flags for the armed services, as well as ROTC standards for colleges and high schools — although that job is aided by sewing machines.
Of all the flags, the presidential flag is their “pride and joy,” Vivino said. It takes two people, stitching in tandem, about 45 days to finish each one.
It starts with the flag pattern being carefully traced in white pencil onto blue fabric. Then a pair of workers, on opposite sides of a small table, use more than a dozen colors of thread to enliven the image — its shield, an eagle clutching 13 arrows and an olive branch, a circle of 50 stars. The hand-embroidered flag will look the same on both sides.