Today, June 14, is Flag Day. The Stars and Stripes was first conceived in May 1776 when three members of the Continental Congress — one of them George Washington — quietly visited Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross and asked for her help in designing a flag to represent the Colonies. The request was made in secret due to the dangerous plans for independence that were underway.

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act, resolving that the flag of the fledgling United States of America would consist of “13 stripes, alternate red and white and that the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” The new American flag first flew on Aug. 6, 1777, at Fort Stanwix in New York and three days later came under fire at the Battle of Oriskany.

For 242 years, the American flag has flown above the nation. It has welcomed millions of immigrants to our shores. It has flown from embassies in faraway lands and served as a warm reminder of home to weary travelers. It has inspired American troops at Saratoga and Appomattox, in the jungles of Guam and Vietnam, in the Persian Gulf, at Normandy and in Korea. It was there — tall, tattered and proud — at morning’s first light after the British bombarded Fort McHenry in 1812. On Sept. 12, 2001, New York firefighters hoisted Old Glory above the rubble of the World Trade Center in defiance of those who tried to break the American spirit.

The old men who stand respectfully at parades when the flag passes by should be joined by every American. The Stars and Stripes should be flown with pride on Flag Day and Independence Day and with solemn respect on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. The Flag Code, Title 4 of the U.S. Code, has a complete list of rules and customs on flag etiquette.

We hope every American understands that our flag serves as a symbol of unity and a reminder of the timeless ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that define this land of the free. Long may it wave.

— Robin Beres

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