By the President of the United States of America
Our country has undergone enormous change since the Continental Congress first adopted the Stars and Stripes as the official Flag of the United States of America in 1777. The new country that struggled for 7 long years to win independence from Great Britain is today the most powerful Nation on Earth. The 13 original colonies huddled close to the Atlantic coast of North America have grown into 50 States, stretching across the continent to the Pacific coast and beyond. From a population of less than 3 million, we have grown to more than 269 million people whose differences in race, religion, cultural traditions, and ethnic background have made us one of the most diverse countries in the world.
Throughout these two centuries of remarkable growth and change, the Stars and Stripes has remained the proud symbol of our fundamental unity. Across the generations, our flag has united Americans in the quest for freedom and peace. Our soldiers first followed it into battle at Brandywine in 1777, and today our Armed Forces carry it on peacekeeping and humanitarian missions around the globe. The American flag accompanied Lewis and Clark on their historic journey of exploration in the early 19th century, and last year Pathfinder carried the image of the Stars and Stripes to the distant landscape of Mars. In schoolyards, on public buildings, and displayed on the front porches of homes across America, our flag is an enduring reminder of the hopes, dreams, and values we all share as Americans, and of the sacrifices so many have made to keep it flying above a Nation that is strong, secure, and free.
Like America, our flag was fashioned to accommodate change without altering its fundamental design. The red and white stripes have remained constant, reminding us of our roots in the 13 colonies. The white stars on a field of blue, shifting in pattern as new States have joined the Union, celebrate our capacity for change. The challenge we have faced in the past and will confront in the 21st century is the same challenge woven into the American flag-to respond creatively to new possibilities while remaining true to our basic ideals of freedom, justice, and human dignity. As we celebrate Flag Day and Flag Week, let us reaffirm our reverence for the American flag, the bright banner that has uplifted the hearts and inspired the finest efforts of Americans for more than 200 years. It has been the symbol of and companion on our American journey thus far, and it will continue to lead us as we embrace the promise of the future.
To commemorate the adoption of our flag, the Congress, by joint resolution approved August 3, 1949 (63 Stat. 492), designated June 14 of each year as "Flag Day" and requested the President to issue an annual proclamation calling for its observance and for the display of the Flag of the United States on all Federal Government buildings. The Congress also requested the President, by joint resolution approved June 9, 1966 (80 Stat. 194), to issue annually a proclamation designating the week in which June 14 falls as "National Flag Week" and calling upon all citizens of the United States to display the flag during that week.
Now, Therefore, I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim June 14, 1998, as Flag Day and the week beginning June 14, 1998, as National Flag Week. I direct the appropriate officials to display the flag on all Federal Government buildings during that week, and I urge all Americans to observe Flag Day and National Flag Week by flying the Stars and Stripes from their homes and other suitable places.
I also call upon the people of the United States to observe with pride and all due ceremony those days from Flag Day through Independence Day, also set aside by the Congress (89 Stat. 211), as a time to honor our Nation, to celebrate our heritage in public gatherings and activities, and to publicly recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twelfth day of June, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-second.
William J. Clinton
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 8:45 a.m., June 16, 1998]