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Here’s What Flag Day Used to Look Like

The celebration dates back many years and it looked a little different than what you might see today.

Closeup of ruffled American flagSTILLFX/Shutterstock

What is Flag Day?

Flag Day is a celebration of the stars and stripes and everything that they represent. It is celebrated on June 14th every year. Another way to think about it is as the flag’s birthday. It started in 1777 when a resolution was passed by Congress for an official American flag. Congress finally approved it as an official holiday in 1949 and it was signed into law by President Harry Truman. It is celebrated through school events, parades, and other ceremonies. Check out these surprising places you’ll find the American flag.

UNITED NATIONS SIGNING, WASHINGTON, USAAP/Shutterstock

United Nations signing

Before it was even an official holiday in the United States, members of the United Nations gather at the White House to reaffirm their pact on June 15, 1942. The desk pictured here was actually once used by Abraham Lincoln. The four men sitting behind it here are, from left to right: Dr. Francisco Castillo Nájera, ambassador from Mexico; President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States; President Manuel Quezon of the Philippines; and U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull.

iwo jima reenactmentAP/Shutterstock

Iwo Jima re-enactment

In 1955, a group of young boys raises the American flag in celebration of the holiday in a similar formation to the iconic Imo Jima flag-raising picture from World War II.

Old Time Aviation 1958, Philadelphia, USAWarren M Winterbottom/AP/Shutterstock

Women’s Air Force

Thirteen young women celebrate Flag Day in 1958 by joining the Women’s Air Force at the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Lt. Co. Francis White (on the left) swore in the group. Brush up on these American flag facts to impress your friends on Flag Day.

Flag Day, Columbus, USAAP/Shutterstock

Neighborhood celebration

Adults pass out American flags to a group of neighborhood kids in Columbus, Ohio in 1967. Each child has a small flag to wave during the Flag Day festivities. 

Henry Aaron, Washington, USAHenry Burroughs/AP/Shutterstock

Ceremony in Washington

Atlanta Braves player Hank Aaron addresses the crowd at the House of Representatives during a Flag Day ceremony in Washington, D.C. in 1974. 

Boy Scouts, Philadelphia, USARusty Kennedy/AP/Shutterstock

Boy Scouts honor

Members of the Boy Scouts beat their drums during a salute to the flag parade in Philadelphia in 1976.

Bill Clinton Campaigning Speaking Gesturing, New York, USARon Frehm/AP/Shutterstock

Not yet president

Bill Clinton, a presidential hopeful at the time, speaks at a Flag Day reception in New York in 1992. If you want to feel more patriotic on Flag Day, take a look at these gorgeous pictures of the American flag.

Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is the Assistant Digital Managing Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. When she’s not writing for rd.com or keeping the 650+ pieces of content our team produces every month organized, she likes watching HGTV, going on Target runs, and searching through Instagram to find new corgi accounts to follow.