Living in the United States, we get accustomed to seeing the American Flag. They are flown at government administration buildings, polling places on election days, school buildings, and parades. Like many people, I fly one on a tall pole in front of my home. But how much do we know about it? Is it red, white, and blue for a reason? Just how many versions of the flag have there been? Keep reading for some informative flag facts.
Most people are aware Betsy Ross, born Elizabeth Griscom on January 1, 1752, is credited with sewing the first flag in 1777, in the early days of the Revolutionary War. Her flag had thirteen stars and thirteen stripes. The stars had five points and were sown into a circle. You may not know that Betsy wasn’t a seamstress but an upholsterer, and because of religious reasons snuck across the river into New Jersey and married John Ross, alienating her family. She would marry three times before her death at eighty-four and a significant bridge in Philadelphia is named in her honor.
Something else you may not know is, that the current flag design we are all so familiar with wasn’t professionally made. A seventeen-year-old high school student, Robert G. Heft of Lancaster, Ohio, won a contest with a design he submitted in 1958. He was chosen out of 1,500 submissions by President Dwight Eisenhower.
There have been 27 versions of the American Flag from the original that had thirteen stars and thirteen stripes for the American colonies. Every time we’ve added a state to the union, a star was added, so today, there are fifty stars and thirteen stripes. The current flag is the only one to have lasted over fifty years. That is because no states have been added to the union since 1959.
As for the colors, red symbolizes hardiness and valor. The white symbolizes purity and innocence. And the blue represents vigilance, perseverance, and justice. So, yes, the colors have a reason. They weren’t just remnants in Betsy’s sewing basket.
MORE FLAG FACTS
- President Woodrow Wilson declared a national day of recognition for our flag on May 30, 1916.
- There is a Federal law that a flag should only be displayed from sunrise to sunset, but if adequately illuminated, the flag can be flown at night.
- Five American Flags have made it to the moon along with Neil Armstrong’s. They are from Apollo 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17.
- If an American Flag is damaged beyond repair and you need to dispose of it, you can burn it with dignity.
As Americans, regardless of race, creed, or political party, We The People live under one flag. I think Ronald Reagan said it best.
“When we honor our flag, we honor what we stand for, as a nation–freedom, equality, justice, and hope.”