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Record Number of American Flags Flown Over the Capitol in Honor of the Bicentennial

July 04, 1976
Record Number of American Flags Flown Over the Capitol in Honor of the Bicentennial Image courtesy of Library of Congress In this image from the late 1930s, Representative Nan Honeyman of Oregon is featured raising a flag on top of the U.S. Capitol.
On this date, 10,471 flags flew over the U.S. Capitol in celebration of America’s Bicentennial, a single-day record. American flags commemorating the 200th anniversary of the country were in high demand by Members and constituents. To accommodate the unusual volume for flag requests, the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) installed 18 temporary flag poles on top of the building. The AOC employed a hoist to raise and lower large shipping pallets of flag boxes to and from the roof of the Capitol. Beginning at 12:01 AM, an assembly line of workers, under the direction of Architect of the Capitol George White, completed the monumental task in nine hours, having worked through the night. In all, 69,856 flags (50-star flags and traditional “Betsy Ross” flags) were flown over the Capitol during the summer of 1976. Since the late 1930s, American flags have been flown over the Capitol and distributed to constituents. These patriotic souvenirs grew so popular that an official Flag Office was created in the 1950s. And, at least since 1976, the flags have included a commemorative certificate signed by the Architect of the Capitol. Prior to the 1976 record, 5,131 flags were flown over the Capitol on the day that Hawaii achieved statehood in 1959. Two special Capitol flags traveled to the moon and back in July 1969. Among the cargo sent with the first astronauts to land on the moon were two flags that had flown over the Capitol. Once back on Earth, Speaker of the House John McCormack of Massachusetts and Vice President Spiro Agnew received the flags at a special Joint Meeting of Congress.

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