In June 1885, 19 year-old school teacher Bernard J. Cigrand held the first recognized formal observance of Flag Day at the Stony Hill School.
A year later, while attending dental school in Chicago, he wrote a newspaper article proposing an annual observance of the birth of the United States flag. He spent much of his life promoting this idea and eventually became president of the American Flag Day Association. He made over 2,000 speeches on patriotism and the flag.
While not an official federal holiday, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation establishing Flag Day as an annual national event in 1916.