The Poster Journal

Flag Day

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed June 14th as Flag Day. This holiday commemorates the 1777 adoption of the flag of the United States of America. June 14th is also the day on which the United States Army celebrates their birthday.

The red in our flag symbolizes hardiness and valor, white is for purity and innocence, and blue represents vigilance, perseverance, and justice. These colors, by now very much engrained in the American psyche, aid the flag in its job of not only creating an entity and identity, but also in inciting memory and through that emotion. The initial use for flags was a means of identification, particularly in maritime environments, where communication would be difficult. The careful but simple schematization of color and shape framed within a space that is universally legible ensured the success of the flag. After countless wars and the solidification of international identities, the flag has become something altogether more powerful. It has become a symbol that is capable of starting and ending conflict at a moments notice. 



The power of the flag has seen skillful employment, particularly in posters of the war time effort, and most specifically within the context of the World Wars. Displaying the flag and littering key phrases around it ensured the arousal of thousands to join the military, purchase war bonds, etc. Much like the actual flag, the posters made to spur the war effort remained simple, and like the flag, resorted to color and shape, thus catering to the most basic senses. On occasions when the flag is not present, war time posters still often adhered to the American color scheme of red, white and blue. 


Just as we recognize our stars and stripes, the flag itself aided in identification of the enemy, as the axis flags were equally capable of conjuring memory. 



Furthering the sanctity of June 14th, there is also National Bourbon Day to be observed. So grab your Jim Beam, your stars and stripes (and your fellow infantrymen?) and soak up some Flag Day sun.