Happy Birthday to the American Flag! September 3, 1777 was the first time she was flown in battle. #LongMaySheWave
This occurred during a Revolutionary War skirmish at Cooch’s Bridge, Del. Gen. William Maxwell, commanding a Patriot force of infantry and cavalry, ordered the new flag raised in a clash with an advance guard of British and Hessian troops.
They were defeated and forced to retreat to the encampment housing Gen. George Washington’s main force near Brandywine Creek in Pennsylvania.
Three months beforehand, on June 14, the Continental Congress resolved that “the flag of the United States be 13 alternate stripes red and white” and that “the Union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
The new national flag, which quickly became known as the “Stars and Stripes,” was based on the “Grand Union” flag – a banner carried by the Continental Army in 1776 that consisted of 13 red and white stripes.
In a report to the delegates, Charles Thompson, the secretary of the Continental Congress, stated that the white in the flag “signifies purity and innocence,” the red “hardiness and valor” and the blue “signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice.”
As new states entered the Union, both new stripes and stars were added to represent them. In 1818, however, Congress restored the 13 original stripes and decided that only stars should be added represent new states.
The current U.S. flag dates from Aug. 21, 1959, when President Dwight Eisenhower signed an executive order calling for the field of 50 stars to be arranged in nine rows staggered horizontally and eleven rows of staggered vertically.
On June 14, 1877, the first Flag Day observance was held on the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the Stars and Stripes. Congress ordered the flag to be flown from all public buildings. In ensuing years, several states continued to observe the anniversary. In 1949, Congress officially designated June 14 as Flag Day as a national day of observance.