We Could Owe Flag Day to a SWPA Native

Posted Jun 14, 2022, by Ethan Story

U.S. flag

U.S. flag dedicated to those who lost their lives on 9/11/2001 by the citizens of Washington County, PA.

On June 14, 1777, the United States officially adopted Old Glory as our national flag. Congress voted on the idea that the field of the flag should have 13 alternating red and white stripes to represent the original 13 colonies. Red symbolizes hardiness and valor, the white symbolizes purity and innocence, while the top left corner should be blue to represent vigilance, perseverance, and justice. Lastly, the white stars represent every state in the union. 

Since 1777, our flag has been changed 27 times to represent the addition of one or more states to the union. The last time our flag was changed was July 4, 1960, with the addition of Hawaii.

In 1882, at 14, William Kerr of Pittsburgh, PA, was picked to give a patriotic speech in Chicago, Il, to gain support for celebrating our nation’s flag. This speech started a 67-year-long campaign with the hopes of designating June 14 as Flag Day.

In 1888, Kerr founded and dedicated his life to the American Flag Day Association of Western Pennsylvania. With his hard work and perseverance, Kerr found himself talking with President Woodrow Wilson in May of 1916, who shortly after that issued a proclamation suggesting that June 14 be observed as Flag Day. But with no success, Flag Day bills came and went in Congress only to die in committees.

However, Kerr’s day finally came. On August 3, 1949, a Flag Day bill was signed into law under the Truman administration. Interestingly enough, Pennsylvania remains the only state in the nation to honor Flag Day as a legal holiday.  This June 14 will mark the United States’ 72nd official Flag Day.

Ethan has also written a previous blog about flags. Check it out here!

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  • Ethan Story

    Ethan comes to CCJ with a J.D. and a Master of Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School. While attending Vermont Law School, Ethan worked as a Research Associate with the Water and Justice Program. In this role, he worked with diverse stakeholders to help protect their access to reliable, clean water. Ethan also interned with the PA Department of Environmental Protection and Pennsylvania Environmental Council, where he worked on issues ranging from coal and oil and gas development to water treatment facilities. He has been published on the subjects of public trust, water rights, and other environmental issues. When he is not at work, he spends time with his family, running, and fly fishing one of PA’s many beautiful rivers. Contact Ethan at ethan@centerforcoalfieldjustice.org.

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