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American Flag (USA Flag)

Published: January 21, 2024 by Prof. Victor S.

American flag

USA flag

The USA flag consists of thirteen equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton bearing fifty white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars alternating with rows of five stars. The 50 stars on the flag represent the 50 states of the USA and the 13 stripes represent the thirteen British colonies that declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain.

USA flag facts
Nicknames The Stars and Stripes | Old Glory | The Star-Spangled Banner | Red, White and Blue
Adopted June 14, 1777 (original version)
July 4, 1960 (current version)
Proportion 10 : 19
Designer Francis Hopkinson (original version)
Robert G. Heft (current version)
Flag day June 14
Colors Red, White and Blue

American flag
American flag colors - meaning/symbolism flag

Red: valor, hardiness and sacrifice
White: purity, innocence and peace
Blue: vigilance, perseverance and justice
Stars: The star is a symbol of the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial. Fifty stars represent fifty states of the union
Stripes: The stripe is symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun. Thirteen stripes represent thirteen colonies that declared independence from Great Britain to form USA

USA flag
Who designed the American flag?
Francis Hopkinson of New Jersey, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was responsible for the stars and stripes design of the American flag. The Stars and Stripes originated as a result of a resolution adopted by the Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress at Philadelphia on June 14, 1777. At the time that the flag resolution was adopted, Hopkinson was the Chairman of the Continental Navy Board's Middle Department. Hopkinson also helped design other devices for the Government including the Great Seal of the United States. The flag was first carried in battle at Brandywine, Pa., in September 1777. It first flew over foreign territory in early 1778, at Nassau, Bahama Islands, where Americans captured a fort from the British. Elizabeth Ross (better known as Betsy Ross) was commissioned by a congressional committee to sew the first official flag. She made the flag with five-pointed stars instead of six-pointed stars as the flag with five-pointed stars was easier to make.

USA flag
Present American flag
(July 4, 1960 - Present)
Current 50-star version of USA flag design was approved after Hawaii was admitted as 50th state of USA on August 21, 1959. Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated August 21, 1959 - provided for the arrangement of the stars in nine rows of stars staggered horizontally and eleven rows of stars staggered vertically. The flag was raised for the first time at 12:01 a.m. on July 4, 1960, at the Fort McHenry National Monument in Baltimore, Maryland.
49-star USA flag
Past USA flag with 49-stars
(July 4, 1959 – July 3, 1960)
Alaska became 49th state of USA on January 3, 1959. Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated January 3, 1959 - provided for the arrangement of the stars in seven rows of seven stars each, staggered horizontally and vertically.

48-star USA flag
Past USA flag with 48-stars
(July 4, 1912 – July 3, 1959)
In 1912 two states joined USA - New Mexico on January 6, 1912 and Arizona on February 14, 1912 - adding two stars for the 46-star USA flag. Executive Order of President Taft dated June 24, 1912 - established proportions of the flag and provided for arrangement of the stars in six horizontal rows of eight each, a single point of each star to be upward.

46-star USA flag
Past USA flag with 46-stars
(July 4, 1908 – July 3, 1912)

Oklahoma joined USA as a state onNovember 16, 1907

45-star USA flag
Past USA flag with 45-stars
(July 4, 1896 – July 3, 1908)

Utah joined the Union on January 4, 1896

44-star USA flag
Past USA flag with 44-stars
(July 4, 1891 – July 3, 1896)

Wyoming joined USA as a state on July 10, 1890

43-star USA flag
Past USA flag with 43-stars
(July 4, 1890 – July 3, 1891)

Five states - North Dakota (November 2, 1889) South Dakota (November 2, 1889) Montana (November 8, 1889) Washington (November 11, 1889) Idaho (July 3, 1890) - joined USA as states and 5 stars were added to the flag

38-star USA flags
Past USA flag with 38-stars
(July 4, 1877 – July 3, 1890)
Colorado joined Union on August 1, 1876. The 38-star flag had stars arranged in rows as well as circles. Until the Executive Order of June 24, 1912, neither the order of the stars nor the proportions of the flag was prescribed, so two popular designs were flown as official flags

37-star USA flag
Past USA flag with 37-stars
(July 4, 1867 – July 3, 1877)
Nebraska joined as a state on March 1, 1867 and one star was added to the flag. Stars were arranged in some flags in rows and circles in others.

36-star USA flag
Past USA flag with 36-stars
(July 4, 1865 – July 3, 1867)
Nevada joined as a state on October 31, 1864 and one star was added. Stars were arranged in some flags in rows and circles in others
35-star USA flag
Past USA flag with 35-stars
(July 4, 1863 – July 3, 1865)

West Virginia joined USA as a state on June 20, 1863

34-star USA flag
Past USA flag with 34-stars
(July 4, 1861 – July 3, 1863)

Kansas joined USA as a state on January 29, 1861

33-star USA flag
Past USA flags with 33-stars
(July 4, 1859 – July 3, 1861)
Oregon joined Union on February 14, 1859 and one star was added. Stars were arranged in rows in some versions and as a star / diamond in others

32-star USA flag
Past USA flag with 32-stars
(July 4, 1858 – July 3, 1859)

Minnesota joined USA as a state on May 11, 1858

31-star USA flag
Past USA flag with 31-stars
(July 4, 1851 – July 3, 1858)

California joined USA as a state on September 9, 1850

30-star USA flag
Past USA flag with 30-stars
(July 4, 1848 – July 3, 1851)

Wisconsin joined USA as a state on May 29, 1848

29-star USA flag
Past USA flag with 29-stars
(July 4, 1847 – July 3, 1848)
Iowa joined Union on December 28, 1846 and one star was added. Stars were arranged in various designs in various versions.
28-star USA flag
Past USA flag with 28-stars
(July 4, 1846 – July 3, 1847)

Texas joined USA as a state on December 29, 1845.

27-star USA flag
Past USA flag with 27-stars
(July 4, 1845 – July 3, 1846)

Florida joined as a state on March 3, 1845

26-star USA flag
Past USA flag with 26-stars
(July 4, 1837 – July 3, 1845)
Michigan joined Union on Jan 26, 1837 and one star was added. Stars were arranged in various designs in various versions.
25-star USA flag
Past USA flag with 25-stars
(July 4, 1836 – July 3, 1837)

Arkansas joined as a state on June 15, 1836

24-star USA flag
Past USA flag with 24-stars
(uly 4, 1822 – July 3, 1836)

Missouri joined USA as a state on August 10, 1821

23-star USA flag
Past USA flag with 23-stars
(July 4, 1820 – July 3, 1822)

Two states - Alabama (December 14, 1819) Maine (March 15, 1820) - joined USA as states

21-star USA flag
Past USA flag with 21-stars
(July 4, 1819 – July 3, 1820)

Illinois joined USA as a state on December 3, 1818

20-star USA flag
Past USA flag with 20-stars
(July 4, 1818 – July 3, 1819)
Five states - Tennessee (June 1, 1796), Ohio (March 1, 1803), Louisiana (April 30, 1812), Indiana (December 11, 1816), Mississippi (December 10, 1817) joined USA.
Act of April 4, 1818 - provided for 13 stripes and one star for each state, to be added to the flag on the 4th of July following the admission of each new state.

USA flag with 15 stripes and 15 stars
(May 1, 1795 – July 3, 1818)
When Vermont (March 4, 1791) and Kentucky (June 1, 1792) joined USA as states, both the number of stars and stripes were raised to 15. Act of January 13, 1794 - provided for 15 stripes and 15 stars after May 1795.
During the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry. When Key saw an oversized American flag emerge intact in the dawn of September 14, 1814, he was so moved that he began that morning to compose the poem "Defence of Fort M'Henry" that was later set to the tune "To Anacreon in Heaven" which would later be renamed "The Star-Spangled Banner" and become the United States' national anthem. A replica of the 15-star, 15-stripe U.S. flag currently flies over Fort McHenry

13 stripes - 13 stars USA flag
USA flag with 13 stripes and 13 stars
(June 14, 1777 – May 1, 1795)
Flag Resolution of June 14, 1777 - stated: "Resolved: that the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation."
Francis Hopkinson's design for a US flag, featuring six-pointed stars arranged in rows. One famous arrangement featured 13 outwardly-oriented five-pointed stars arranged in a circle, the so-called Betsy Ross flag

First American flag
First American flag
(December 3, 1775 – June 14, 1777)
The first flag of the colonists to have any resemblance to the present Stars and Stripes was the Grand Union Flag, sometimes referred to as the Congress Colors, the First Navy Ensign, and the Cambridge Flag. Its design consisted of 13 stripes, alternately red and white, representing the Thirteen Colonies, with a blue field in the upper left-hand corner bearing the red cross of St. George of England with the white cross of St. Andrew of Scotland. As the flag of the revolution it was used on many occasions. It was first flown by the ships of the Colonial Fleet on the Delaware River. On December 3, 1775, it was raised aboard Captain Esek Hopkin's flagship Alfred by John Paul Jones, then a Navy lieutenant. Later the flag was raised on the liberty pole at Prospect Hill, which was near George Washington's headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was our unofficial national flag on July 4, 1776, Independence Day; and it remained the unofficial national flag and ensign of the Navy until June 14, 1777, when the Continental Congress authorized the Stars and Stripes. Interestingly, the Grand Union Flag also was the standard of the British East India Company. It was only by degrees that the Union Flag of Great Britain was discarded. The final breach between the Colonies and Great Britain brought about the removal of the British Union from the canton of our striped flag and the substitution of stars on a blue field.
    Why American Flag is called 'Old Glory'?

    The name "Old Glory" was first applied to the U.S. flag by a young sea captain who lived in Salem, Mass. On his twenty-first birthday, March 17, 1824, Capt. William Driver was presented a beautiful flag by his mother and a group of Salem girls. Driver was delighted with the gift. He exclaimed, "I'll name her 'Old Glory.'" Then Old Glory accompanied the captain on his many voyages.
    Captain Driver quit the sea in 1837. He settled in Nashville, Tenn. On patriotic days he displayed Old Glory proudly from a rope extending from his house to a tree across the street. After Tennessee seceded from the Union in 1861, Captain Driver hid Old Glory. He sewed the flag inside a comforter. When Union soldiers entered Nashville on February 25, 1862, Driver removed Old Glory from its hiding place. He carried the flag to the state capitol building and raised it.
    Shortly before his death, the old sea captain placed a small bundle into the arms of his daughter. He said to her, "Mary Jane, this is my ship flag, Old Glory. It has been my constant companion. I love it as a mother loves her child. Cherish it as I have cherished it."
    The flag remained as a precious heirloom in the Driver family until 1922. Then it was sent to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, where it is carefully preserved under glass today

    USA flag that inspired US Anthem
    Which flag inspired American National Anthem?
    Star-Spangled Banner,the patriotic song, whose words were written by Francis Scott Key on September 14, 1814, during the War of 1812 with Great Britain, was adopted by Congress as the U.S. national anthem in 1931. For many years before Congress made this choice, the song was popular and regulations for military bands required that it be played for ceremonies.
    Though Key wrote the words during the British bombardment of Fort McHenry at Baltimore, the melody was an English tune well known in America by the 1790s. It was the music for a poem, "To Anacreon in Heaven," written about 1780 as the official song of a British social and musical organization, the Anacreontic Society. In fact, Key had used the music in 1805 to accompany another poem he wrote to honor Commodore Stephen Decatur.
    Key was a well known 34-year-old Washington, D.C., lawyer-poet. The British had captured Washington and taken William Beanes, a physician, prisoner. They were holding him aboard ship in their fleet off the Baltimore shore. Friends of Beanes persuaded Key to negotiate his release. Key went out to the British fleet and succeeded in gaining Beanes' release but, because the British planned to attack Baltimore at that time, both were detained.
    During the night of Sept. 13-14, Key watched the bombardment of Baltimore from the deck of a British ship. Although rain obscured the fort during the night, at daybreak he could see the American flag still flying from Fort McHenry. (It had 15 stars and 15 stripes at that time) The fort still stood after the British had fired some 1,800 bombs, rockets and shells at it, about 400 of them landing inside. Four defenders were killed and 24 wounded. Key drafted the words of a poem on an envelope. The American detainees were sent ashore, the British fleet withdrew, and Key finished the poem and made a good copy of it in a Baltimore hotel the next day.
    According to some accounts, Key showed the poem to relatives of his wife in Baltimore and these people had it printed immediately and distributed throughout the city on a handbill, entitled "The Defense of Fort McHenry." Within a couple of weeks, Baltimore newspapers published the poem, it gained instant popularity and was renamed "The Star-Spangled Banner." An actor sang it to the popular British tune at a public performance in Baltimore.
    Only with the start of the Civil War did "The Star-Spangled Banner" become a nationally popular song. Both Union and Confederate forces rallied to it. During World War I, a drive began in Congress to make it the official anthem of America's armed forces. There were other contenders for the title, including "America the Beautiful" and "Yankee Doodle." Maryland legislators and citizens were among the most active groups and individuals who pressed to get Francis Scott Key's words and accompanying English tune ratified into law as the country's first national anthem. That finally happened with passage of P.L. 823 and President Herbert Hoover's signature on March 3, 1931.
    The anthem has four verses, each ending with the line, "O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave."
    Why June 14 is American flag day?
    Each year on June 14, we celebrate the birthday of the Stars and Stripes, which came into being on June 14, 1777. At that time, the Second Continental Congress authorized a new flag to symbolize the new Nation, the United States of America.
    The Stars and Stripes first flew in a Flag Day celebration in Hartford, Connecticut in 1861, during the first summer of the Civil War. The first national observance of Flag Day occurred June 14, 1877, the centennial of the original flag resolution.
    By the mid 1890's the observance of Flag Day on June 14 was a popular event. Mayors and governors began to issue proclamations in their jurisdictions to celebrate this event.
    In the years to follow, public sentiment for a national Flag Day observance greatly intensified. Numerous patriotic societies and veterans groups became identified with the Flag Day movement. Since their main objective was to stimulate patriotism among the young, schools were the first to become involved in flag activities.
    In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling for a nationwide observance of Flag Day on June 14. It was not until 1949 that Congress made this day a permanent observance by resolving "That the 14th day of June of each year is hereby designated as Flag Day. The measure was signed into law by President Harry Truman.

    American flag folding procedure
    Though not part of the official Flag Code, according to military custom, flags should be folded into a triangular shape when not in use. To properly fold the flag: Begin by holding it waist-high with another person so that its surface is parallel to the ground. Fold the lower half of the stripe section lengthwise over the field of stars, holding the bottom and top edges securely. Fold the flag again lengthwise with the blue field on the outside. Make a rectangular fold then a triangular fold by bringing the striped corner of the folded edge to meet the open top edge of the flag, starting the fold from the left side over to the right. Turn the outer end point inward, parallel to the open edge, to form a second triangle. The triangular folding is continued until the entire length of the flag is folded in this manner (usually thirteen triangular folds, as shown at right). On the final fold, any remnant that does not neatly fold into a triangle (or in the case of exactly even folds, the last triangle) is tucked into the previous fold. When the flag is completely folded, only a triangular blue field of stars should be visible. There is also no specific meaning for each fold of the flag. However, there are scripts read by non-government organizations and also by the Air Force that are used during the flag folding ceremony. These scripts range from historical timelines of the flag to religious themes.
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