KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Nearly 130 years ago, a teacher in small town Waubeka, Wis., assigned an essay topic that changed the nation.
Bernard J. Cigrand instructed his students to write about the significance of the American flag on what he dubbed as its birthday - the day Congress officially adopted the Stars and Stripes as the flag of the United States in 1777.
Cigrand saw his life's passion realized when President Wilson officially issue a proclamation for national observance of Flag Day on May 30, 1916.
Thursday marks the 235th birthday of the Stars and Stripes. While Flag Day is a working holiday, there's no reason not to celebrate by catching up on some interesting flag facts. Who knows, maybe you can even inspire your boss into a half-day with these patriotic tidbits.
1. There are six U.S. flags currently stationed on the moon, placed there by Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17.
2. The study of flags is called Vexillology. The North American Vexillological Assiociation ( http://bit.ly/KK3lID ) hosts the largest convention of flag scholars and enthusiasts in the continent annually. This year's meeting will take place Oct. 5-7 in Columbus, Ohio.
3. For designers out there, the official colors of the red, white and blue stripes are defined as Dark Red (Pantone 193 C), White (Pantone safe), and Navy Blue (281 C).
4. According to the USA Flag Site ( http://bit.ly/MSDjYv ), the flag shouldn't be used as a part of costumes or athletic uniforms, except in the case of approved flag patches for military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations.
5. You do not have to destroy a flag if it touches the ground. Instead, you should wash with mild soap and thoroughly dry before returning to active use.
6. The word flag is derived from the old Saxon word ‘fflaken' which means to fly or float in the air.
7. When it comes to flag disposal, the Veterans of Foreign Wars ( http://bit.ly/LX0Pk9 ) provide suggestions for a disposal ceremony that includes the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, a period of silent reflection and ultimate burial of the ashes once the flag has been properly extinguished.
8. The current version of the U.S. flag was designed by 18-year-old Robert Heft, who received a B- for his design. Heft challenged his grade requesting it be changed to an A if his design proposal was accepted by Congress. Heft earned his A, and in 1958 his design was officially adopted as the nation's flag.
9. The most common world flag colors are red, blue, white, black, yellow and green.
10. Before Betsy Ross created the 13-star flag in 1776, there were six alternative versions, including specific flags for the Sons of Liberty and New England. For a more detailed timeline click here ( http://bit.ly/7ENtIE )