By the President of the United States of America
Two hundred and five years ago, in June of 1775, the first distinctive American flags to be used in battle were hoisted above the Colonial defenses at the Battle of Bunker Hill. One of these flags was an adaptation of the British "Blue Ensign." The other was an entirely new design. Both, however, bore one device in common-the pine tree-chosen to symbolize the colonists' efforts to wrest their land from the forests.
As the colonists moved toward a final break with the mother country, other flags with more pointed messages began to appear. Several featured rattlesnakes, symbolizing vigilance and deadly striking power, and were emblazoned with the legends "Liberty or Death" and "Don't Tread on Me."
On January 1, 1776, the Grand Union flag was raised over Washington's Continental Army headquarters displaying not only the British crosses of St. George and St. Andrew but also thirteen red and white stripes for the thirteen American colonies. That same year, the Bennington flag was unfurled, with thirteen stars, thirteen stripes and the number "76."
But it was not until the following year that the Continental Congress chose a flag that more tellingly expressed the unity and resolve of the Colonials who had banded together to seek independence. On June 14, 1777, two years after the Battle of Bunker Hill, the delegates voted "that the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation."
Today, thirty-seven stars and two centuries later, the flag chosen by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia continues to be our national flag and to symbolize our shared commitment to freedom and equality.
To commemorate the adoption of our flag, the Congress, by a joint resolution of August 3, 1949 (63 Stat. 492), designated June 14 of each year as Flag Day and requested the President to issue annually a proclamation calling for its observance. The Congress also requested the President, by joint resolution of June 9, 1966 (80 Stat. 194), to issue annually a proclamation designating the week in which June 14 occurs as National Flag Week and to call upon all citizens of the United States to display the flag on those days.
Now, THEREFORE, I, JIMMY CARTER, do hereby designate the week beginning June 8, 1980, as National Flag Week, and I direct the appropriate officials of the Government to display the flag on all Government buildings during the week. I urge all Americans to observe Flag Day, June 14, and Flag Week by flying the Stars and Stripes from their homes and other suitable places.
To focus the attention of the American people on their country's character, heritage and future well-being, the Congress has also, by joint resolution of June 13, 1975, set aside the 21 days from Flag Day through Independence Day as a period to honor America (89 Stat. 211).
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twelfth day of May, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fourth.
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 11:23 a.m., May 13, 1980]