Daylong festival to take place on Friday, June 14, 2019, in Philadelphia’s Historic District
From star-spangled banners to five-star generals, Philadelphia celebrates the shared birthday of two of our country’s greatest institutions—the American flag and the U.S. Army. This year’s Stripes and Stars Festival commemorates the U.S. Army’s 244th anniversary and the American flag’s 242nd birthday. The festival will take place on Friday, June 14, 2019, at locations throughout Independence National Historical Park and Historic Philadelphia, including Independence Hall, the Betsy Ross House, Christ Church Burial Ground, and the National Constitution Center. Events include flag raising ceremonies, a patriotic parade, a swearing-in of Army recruits, a dramatic skydiving performance, displays and demonstrations of U.S. Army equipment, giant flag folding activities, performances by the United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, and a moving naturalization ceremony. Visitors can also participate in special Soldier Talks, in partnership with the “Meet Your Army” Campaign, at the National Constitution Center.
Most Stripes and Stars Festival events are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted below.
13-Star Flag Raising
10 a.m., Betsy Ross House, 239 Arch Street
To kick off the day’s events, the 13-star flag raising in the Betsy Ross House courtyard will also include a reading of a mayoral proclamation recognizing the Betsy Ross House as the site of the city of Philadelphia’s official Flag Day celebration.
50-Star Flag Raising and Grand Parade
10:30 a.m., National Constitution Center Front Lawn, 525 Arch Street
Following a moving 50-star flag raising ceremony, troops—past and present—will join a patriotic parade to Independence Hall. This year, during the parade, the Stripes and Stars Festival will pay tribute to late co-founder, James “Jim” Donahue, who passed away unexpectedly this past year. Jim worked for the Department of the Army and served as president of the William Penn Chapter of the AUSA. He was a dedicated and enthusiastic member of the Stripes and Stars planning committee, and will be greatly missed. In honor of his years of service, Jim has been posthumously named this year’s Honorary Parade Marshal.
Stripes and Stars Festival Opening Ceremony
11 a.m., Independence Hall, 520 Chestnut Street
Independence National Historical Park’s Deputy Superintendent Patrick Suddath will provide remarks followed by the raising of the Philadelphia Flag Day Association’s specially-commissioned 13-star flag. After a reading of the Continental Congress resolution establishing the U.S. Army, Major General Mark Palzer, U.S. Army, will deliver a keynote address to mark the Army’s birthday and will administer the enlistment oath to assembled Army recruits. Philadelphia Councilman At-Large David Oh will also present a special citation to veterans of the 75th Ranger Regiment. Observing a long-standing tradition, the youngest and oldest soldiers present will cut the Army birthday cake provided by Mission BBQ. David Spunt, correspondent at Fox News, will emcee the ceremony. Musical accompaniment will be provided by the United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps.
Team Fastrax Professional Skydiving Team
12 p.m., Independence Mall
Visitors on Independence Mall will have the opportunity to witness a spectacular skydive demonstration by the Team Fastrax Professional Skydiving Team.
1 p.m., Betsy Ross House
As part of its 77th annual Flag Day festivities, the Philadelphia Flag Day Association (founded 1934) will welcome 13 new citizens who will take the Oath of Allegiance in a ceremony at the Betsy Ross House. All are welcome to join them in their first Pledge of Allegiance as new American citizens. Musical accompaniment will be provided by the United States Army Field Band Brass Quintet.
Performance by the United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum
1:30 p.m., National Constitution Center Front Lawn
2:30 p.m., Independence Visitors Center
History comes alive with this performance by the United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum. The musicians of this unit recall the days of the American Revolution as they perform in uniforms patterned after those worn by the musicians of General George Washington’s Continental Army—a proud tradition that began with the musicians of the Continental Army and continues today.
Giant Flag Folding Challenge
2 p.m., National Constitution Center Front Lawn
3 p.m., Independence Hall
The day concludes as festival visitors help fold a giant American flag.
All Day Events
Stripes and Stars Community Fair
10 a.m. – 3 p.m., National Constitution Center Front Lawn
Throughout the day, families can stop by the Stripes and Stars Community Fair on the National Constitution Center’s front lawn, where veterans organizations and museums will host special activities as well as displays featuring military vehicles and equipment.
Flag Day Celebration
9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., National Constitution Center
Admission: Programs included with general admission
Visitors can enjoy arts and crafts activities, lawn games, educational programs on the history of the flag, and much more. Visitors will also be able to participate in special Soldier Talks at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., in partnership with the “Meet Your Army” Campaign. Reservations are recommended for Soldier Talks, call group sales at 215-409-6800.
Meet the Flag Ladies of the Defense Logistics Agency!
10 a.m. – 8 p.m., Betsy Ross House
Admission: FREE, courtesy of Dr. Jeffrey Kenneth Kohn
Did you know that presidential flags have been handmade exclusively here in Philadelphia for more than 150 years? On June 14 during the Meet the Flag Ladies Program from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., visitors to the Betsy Ross House will have the unique opportunity to meet the artisans from the Defense Logistics Agency who hand embroider the flags that are displayed behind U.S. presidents and vice presidents, and to see how they do their detailed work.
As a part of their annual Flag Fest, the Betsy Ross Hose will be hosting events all week long. Visithttp://historicphiladelphia.org/flagfest/ for more information.
Christ Church Burial Ground
12 – 2 p.m., Christ Church Burial Ground
Visitors can explore this historical burial ground for a reduced rate from noon to 2 p.m., and pick up a special self-guided map highlighting notable graves, like that of Francis Hopkinson, designer of the first American flag and signer of the Declaration of Independence.
For a full schedule of events, visit constitutioncenter.org/stripesandstars.
Featured Stripes and Stars partner organizations include: the National Constitution Center, Independence National Historical Park, the Betsy Ross House, the Philadelphia Flag Day Association, the United States Army, the Association of the United States Army: William Penn Chapter, and Historic Philadelphia, Inc.
Additional partners include Christ Church, Spirit of Liberty Foundation, Daughters of the American Revolution (Flag House Chapter), and Sons of the American Revolution (Philadelphia Continental Chapter).
Origins of U.S. Flag and U.S. Army Commemorations
Flag Day commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on June 14, 1777, by resolution of the Second Continental Congress. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling for an official national Flag Day observance. Then in 1949, President Harry S. Truman signed an Act of Congress designating the 14th day of June every year as National Flag Day. The United States Army also celebrates its birthday on this date; Congress authorized “the American Continental Army” on June 14, 1775.