What is a Flag? It’s Flag Day!

It’s Flag Day.  So, we are talking about flags.  Before I had a six-year-old who liked to ask questions, I never really gave the question “what is a flag?” much thought.  Flag day is the birthday of the American Flag.  Adopted in 1777, it’s 236 today!  Happy Birthday to all the good that it symbolizes!  And although most of us U.S. citizens know about and observe Flag Day, it is only a legal holiday in Pennsylvania.

What is a flag and why does it matter?  Here’s a simple answer for the younger set:

A flag is a piece of fabric used as a symbol or a message from a group of people.  We use flags to give other people information about ourselves like what matters to us.  In doing so, we really bring that fabric to life and give it special powers.

Orange Bucky, one of Molly's best friends and a piece of fabric.  That is some serious MOJO.

Orange Bucky, one of Molly’s best friends and a piece of fabric. It represents peace, love, and safety. That is some serious MOJO.

Have you thought about what the American flag means today?  In our house, we are talking about all the freedoms we enjoy like free speech, freedom to travel, and freedom of religion.  We are also talking about their flip sides, which, of course, are freedom not to speak, freedom not to travel, and freedom not to practice any specific religion.  They are two sides to a very, very, valuable and cherished coin.

Aside from what the stars and stripes represent, what beliefs does our flag represent?  What does it mean when our astronauts fly a flag on the moon?  Or our Olympians drape their shoulders in the flag like my daughter does her beloved blanket?  Why am I flying one in front of my home right now?  How can one piece of decorated fabric hold so much sway for so many people?

Today’s a great day to talk about hopes and dreams.


Does this flag have the power to tell us what it means to be an American (for good and for bad)?

Here’s a video from the National Constitution Center on The History of the U.S. Flag:

And here is a lesson plan for older kids to go along with it.

Here are answers to almost every question about the American Flag that you can think of and more.

For example, is it proper flag etiquette to wear these shorts?  Find out at that link!

For example, is it proper flag etiquette to wear these shorts? Find out at that link above!

Here’s a link to 24 awesome images of the American Flag from the news this year.

For those looking for a bit of trivia, the current Guinness Book of World Records record holder for “oldest, continuously used national flag” is that of Denmark.  It goes all the way back to 1625.  Check it out, as well as other Guinness fun facts here.


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