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What is Flag Day and why are some people burning flags

·2-min read
US flags fly on the ground of the Washington Monument on Flag Day 14 June 2019 in Washington, DC (Getty Images)
US flags fly on the ground of the Washington Monument on Flag Day 14 June 2019 in Washington, DC (Getty Images)

Flag Day is the annual celebration of the American flag, held on the anniversary of the day it was officially created.

On 14 June, 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes for its flag.

"Resolved, that the flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation,” John Adams said.

A school teacher named Bernard J Cigrand, who is widely considered the “Father of Flag Day”, is thought to be the first person to have formally proposed the annual celebration of the flag.

In 1916, over 100 years after the flag’s conception, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation for the national observance of the day.

On the day, towns and cities proudly fly their flag and some hold parades in honour of it. The flag is also flown at all government buildings.

What does the US flag symbolise?

Each star on the flag represents each of the 50 US states while 13 stripes on the flag symbolise the 13 original colonies.

There have been twenty-seven official versions of the flag so far and stars have been added to it as states have entered the Union.

Is Flag Day a national holiday?

Flag Day is not considered a federal holiday, but its observance is proclaimed every year by the president of the United States.

Pennsylvania is said to be the only state that recognises 14 June as a legal holiday. New York also recognises the second Sunday in June as Flag Day.

“The United States has grown and changed across the generations — and our flag has changed in turn,” president Joe Biden said in a proclamation on Flag Day on 11 June.

He added: “I urge all Americans to observe Flag Day and National Flag Week by displaying the flag.”

Why are some flags being burnt?

The US Department of Defence (DOD) explains that the appropriate method to dispose of old and frayed flags is by burning in a “flag retirement ceremony”.

“Don’t just throw it in the trash like any other old item — that’s considered disrespectful,” the department says.

The DOD says that residents can donate their flags to state and county government offices for burning or that citizens can respectfully carry out their own burning ceremony.

Flag day is considered the aptest day to hold such dignified ceremonies, and the burnings are often held at night.

To correctly burn a flag, it must first be folded as per correct flag etiquette. Those carrying out the ceremony must then salute the flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance before placing it in a fire.

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