Historical Highlights

The House Hosts its First Flag Day Ceremony

June 14, 1955
The House Hosts its First Flag Day Ceremony Image courtesy of Library of Congress In 1955, the House paid tribute to the U.S. Flag with a military color guard presenting the flag in the chamber. The Air Force Choral Group and Air Force Band appear on the left of the photograph.
On this date, the House hosted what was billed as its first “all-out” ceremony in the chamber to honor the flag of the United States. A 1916 presidential proclamation first designated national Flag Day on June 14—the date the Continental Congress approved the design of the national flag in 1777. In 1949, the House and Senate passed a joint resolution declaring June 14 as Flag Day and authorizing the President to issue a proclamation that flags be displayed at government buildings and, further, that the President urge all citizens to observe the anniversary. During the 1955 ceremony, Members gathered in the chamber and sang “The Stars and Stripes Forever” as the colors were presented in the well of the House. Louis C. Rabaut of Michigan, who a year earlier had authored legislation that inserted the phrase “under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance, addressed the House from the Speaker’s Rostrum. He expounded on the symbolic significance of celebrating the flag by linking it to the global Cold War against communism. “What we do and say here, I pray, will make itself felt not only to our own citizenry, but to the rest of the world as well,” he told Members who crowded the chamber. “We cannot afford to capitulate to the atheistic philosophies of godless men—we must strive to ever remind the world that this great Nation has been endowed by a creator, and that this concept finds expression in our declared way of life.” The U.S. Air Force Band and the Singing Sergeants, arrayed in rows on the Republican side of the chamber, performed “The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag”—an arrangement by famed composer and lyricist Irving Caesar. The ceremony concluded with the entire assembly singing a rousing rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

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