The American flag, also known as the Stars and Stripes, is a symbol of freedom, liberty, and national pride. With its rich history, the flag has come to represent the values that the United States stands for. In this article, we’ll explore 10 fascinating facts about the American flag, from its origins to its symbolism and the unique stories behind it.
The first American flag was officially adopted on June 14, 1777, by the Second Continental Congress under the Flag Resolution. This resolution stated, “Resolved: that the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union is thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” The 13 stars and stripes represented the original 13 colonies that declared independence from Great Britain.
Thomas Green, a Native American, requested the creation of an official flag in 1777 to ensure his safety while traveling through dangerous territories in Philadelphia. Congress obliged, and the flag was finalized on June 14th, 1777.
The American flag has gone through 27 official versions since its first adoption. As new states joined the Union, the flag’s design was amended to reflect the growing number of states. The current 50-star flag was first raised on July 4, 1960, at the Fort McHenry National Historic Site in Maryland.
While there is no official reason for the choice of red, white, and blue as the colors of the American flag, it is widely believed that the Great Seal of the United States influenced the selection. According to the American Legion, tradition dictates that white represents purity, red symbolizes valor, and blue signifies justice and perseverance. These meanings are derived from Charles Thomson’s description of the colors in the Great Seal of the United States, which he played a significant role in designing.
Betsy Ross, a seamstress who made clothes for George Washington, is often credited with creating the first American flag. However, evidence supporting this claim is scarce. The only testimony comes from her grandson in 1870, nearly 100 years after the first flag was designed. While Ross did sew many flags during her time, it remains uncertain whether she designed the first American flag.
The 15-star, 15-stripe flag flown at Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812 inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which later became the national anthem of the United States. The remnants of this flag are now on permanent display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
Of the six American flags planted on the moon during the Apollo missions, five are still standing. The only flag that is no longer on the moon is the first one, planted by Neil Armstrong during the Apollo 11 mission. Images taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2012 show that the remaining flags are still standing, although decades of sunlight have likely bleached their colors.
The current 50-star American flag was designed by Robert G. Heft, a 17-year-old high school student from Lancaster, Ohio, in 1958. Heft created the flag for a class project, for which he initially received a B-. However, his teacher agreed to raise his grade if the design was accepted in Washington, D.C. Out of 1,500 entries, Heft’s design was chosen, and he stood with President Dwight D. Eisenhower on July 4, 1960, as the new flag was raised over the U.S. Capitol. His grade was subsequently changed to an A.
When the American flag passes during a parade or review, individuals should stand at attention and place their right hand over their heart, as stated in federal flag laws and regulations. Military members should salute. The flag should never be flown upside down, except to signal distress. It should be raised quickly and lowered slowly, and no other flag should be placed above it. At night, the American flag must be illuminated, and it should not be flown during inclement weather.
National Flag Day is observed every year on June 14th, commemorating the adoption of the Stars and Stripes as the official American flag. President Woodrow Wilson established Flag Day on May 30, 1916, with a proclamation urging Americans to show their love for their country on this day each year.
The state flag of Virginia features the Roman deity Virtus, representing bravery and military strength, standing triumphant above the fallen king, Tyranny. The Latin phrase “sic semper tyrannis” runs below the scene, proclaiming “thus always to tyrants.” Interestingly, Virtus bares her left breast, making her the only depiction of nudity on an American flag.
In conclusion, the American flag is a symbol of unity, freedom, and national pride with a rich history and fascinating stories behind its creation and evolution. Whether you’re celebrating Flag Day or simply admiring the Stars and Stripes, these facts offer a glimpse into the flag’s significance and the values it represents.