On the surface, it seems only fitting that June 14 represents both the United States Army’s birthday and Flag Day.
After all, it’s difficult to envision one without the other. However, as compatible as they might be, pure coincidence offers the best explanation of why both are celebrated on June 14. Consider:
On June 14, 1775 – 247 years ago today – the Continental Congress authorized the formation of 10 companies of expert riflemen who would serve the 13 colonies for one year. That day became the recognized birthday of the U.S. Army even though Congress authorized four more Army corps – Adjutant General’s, Engineers, Finance, and Quartermaster – two days later. And it formed the Field Artillery corps a day after that, on June 17, 1775, according to the U.S. Army Center of Military History.
The Army has continued to expand and evolve, adding corps during every war from the Revolutionary to the Gulf Wars, right up until it created the Cyber corps in 2014.
Now, about Old Glory.…
On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress approved language for the first flag design. It read:
That the flag of the United States shall be of thirteen stripes of alternate red and white, with a union of thirteen stars of white in a blue field, representing the new constellation.
Seamstress Betsy Ross is credited with sewing the first flag, though there is no known documentation to confirm it. The date of the flag’s creation – which we now celebrate as Flag Day – came a year after the Declaration of Independence and two years to the day after the creation of an Army that hadn’t won anything yet.
The Continental Army, led by General George Washington, carried the flag into combat for the first time at the Battle of Brandywine in Pennsylvania on September 11, 1777. The British won that battle, capturing Philadelphia – then the U.S. capital – for a time. Victory over the British didn’t come until September 3, 1783.
The first known Flag Day celebration occurred in Hartford, Connecticut in 1861 – a few months after the Civil War began – for the purpose of indoctrinating immigrant children in Americanism.
The American Flag Day Association formed in 1888. A year later, a New York school principal held a Flag Day event for kindergartners that motivated the state’s Department of Education to expand it to all public schools. Various other efforts to recognize Flag Day happened across the country, with Pennsylvania becoming the first state to recognize it as a state holiday in 1937.