America’s national flag has many nicknames: Old Glory, the Stars and Stripes, the Star-Spangled Banner. It billows over monuments and memorials, is carried in parades and is planted in cemeteries during many U.S. holidays, but June 14 is dedicated to the flag itself.
Flag Day celebrates the anniversary of the adoption of America’s official flag in 1777. The first flag was 13 stars on a field of blue and 13 alternating red and white stripes, representing the original colonies. It has been modified since then, and today there is a star for each of the 50 states.
In 1814, the sight of the American flag flying over Fort McHenry in Baltimore, following bombardment by British forces, inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem "The Star-Spangled Banner," which was set to music and later became America’s national anthem. The original Fort McHenry flag is among the most treasured artifacts in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. The British attack on Fort McHenry was part of that war, which is often called America’s “second war of independence” against Britain.