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Today Is Flag Day

Summary: 
June 14 marks Flag Day, the day in 1777 the Continental Congress adopted the first U.S. flag.
President Barack Obama Greets Hugh Hills In Front Of His Home In Joplin

President Barack Obama greets Hugh Hills, 85, in front of his home in Joplin, Mo., May 29, 2011. Hills hid in a closet during the tornado, which destroyed the second floor and half the first floor of his house. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

June 14 marks Flag Day, the day in 1777 the Continental Congress adopted the first U.S. flag. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Flag Day a day of national celebration in 1916, and President Harry Truman formally established its annual observance in 1949.

The first flag, which many say was sewn by a Philadelphia woman named Betsy Ross, had 13 stars and 13 stripes, representing the 13 American colonies. New stripes and stars were added as new states joined the Union. In 1818, however, Congress passed legislation fixing the number of stripes at 13 and requiring the number of stars equal the number of states.

Several variations of the flag were flown over the next 100 years or so, until President William Howard Taft issued an executive order in 1912 to the establish proportions and placement of the stars that are featured on the flag we fly today.

Altogether, the U.S. flag has been modified 26 times since 1777. The 50-star version has been in use the longest, since 1960.