Friday, June 12, 2015

Flag Day: Our Family’s Unofficial Flag

Congress adopted the Stars & Stripes as the official flag of the United States of America on 14 June 1777. In 1949 President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating the 14th day of June every year as National Flag Day. This is our 66th Flag Day.

I have a large trunk full of my Nana’s mementos. My Nana, Helen Coyle Gardner, was born 9 January 1897 in New York City. Tucked inside her old school notebook is an American flag. This flag has 42 stars and therefore, it is an unofficial flag.

In 1818 the Third Flag Act came into effect. It said that each new state would not be added immediately but had to wait until the next July 4th to be added to the flag. In 1889 there were 38 stars on our flag. North and South Dakota entered the Union on November 2, 1889, giving us 40 states. Six days later Montana became #41. Three days later Washington became #42. For 243 days we had 42 states. However, those states had to wait until July 4th to see their stars officially on the flag. Flag manufacturers must have gone ahead and made flags with 42 stars, like the flag my Nana owned.

However, on 3 July 1890, Idaho became the 43rd state. The new official flag skipped over 42 stars and went to the 43 star flag as the Third Flag Act required.

My Nana, as a little girl, had this small unofficial flag, folded it and tucked it into her school notebook. I remember my Nana as a woman who was immensely proud of her country and I’m sure she’d be glad to have her little flag brought out for this year’s Flag Day. 

Be sure to fly your flag on June 14th!


  1. Colleen,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

  2. What a wonderful keepsake. I'm glad it prompted you to tell the story about our flag and how stars are added.

    1. Wendy, thanks for stopping by. I need to find a better way to store the flag rather than keeping it folded in the old notebook.


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