Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
By mid-century, the House had formalized its celebrations of Flag Day. In 1977, it was so extensive that it warranted a printed program.
On this date, on a late Sunday afternoon, an enormous American flag (on loan from a Detroit department store) was displayed at the Capitol having been draped across the central facade of the West Front as a backdrop to a Vespers Flag Service. The flag, said to be the largest in existence, measured 90 by 165 feet—with bars eight feet wide and the stars spanning five and one half feet each. “John Hancock spectacles went begging yesterday afternoon, for John Bull and everyone else could see the flag that was carried along Pennsylvania Avenue with the unaided eye,” reported the Washington Post
about the previous day's parade. With the Navy Band at its head, the parade wound its way from the Ellipse to the Capitol—with the flag borne by nearly 150 servicemen from the various military branches. The ceremonies on the Capitol steps included Vice President Charles Curtis
, the Reverend Dr. James Shera Montgomery, Chaplain of the House
, and several local clergymen. An audience of several thousand, including a small contingent of surviving Civil War veterans, gathered to witness a pageant, “The Story of the Flag,” produced by the U.S. Flag Association. The event included more than 2,000 District of Columbia school children who, donning colored paper costumes, formed the outlines of a pair of human flags on the Capitol steps. Also, serving as a color bearer was 13-year-old Betsy Ross—reportedly, a direct descendant and namesake of the seamstress who sewed the first American flag.