10 Fun Facts About the American Flag
by Brittany Marklin
Since 1916 we have set aside June 14th as National Flag Day in honor of the adoption of the Stars and Stripes as the official American flag. The American flag unites us as a country and represents what our country was built on: liberty and freedom. Literally, it’s just a piece of fabric, but the more you know about it, the more you come to appreciate the symbolism each thread embodies.
National Flag Day Trivia
1) There are 50 stars and 13 stripes on the American flag. The 50 stars represent each of the 50 states in the U.S. and the 13 stripes represent the original 13 colonies that became the first states in the Union.
2) History states that red, white and blue were chosen as the colors to represent valor (red), liberty and purity (white), and justice and loyalty (blue).
3) There have been 27 official versions of the American flag, each with a different amount of stars.
4) When Alaska and Hawaii become states 49 and 50, President Eisenhower received thousands of ideas for an updated flag. Robert G. Heft, a 17-year old high school student from Ohio, submitted his version that he created for a class project, and it was accepted and remains in use today. Can you believe that Robert got a B- on his project?
5) Betsy Ross was a seamstress who made clothes for George Washington. In June, 1776, Washington approached her to make the first American flag, and the rest is, well, history.
6) Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics to our national anthem after he witnessed the British attack at Fort McHenry. He watched the British ‘rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,’ yet still saw ‘that star-spangled banner yet wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.’
7) What’s left of the 15-star, 15-bar flag that immortalized the national anthem is on permanent display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
8) After a tragedy like September 11th, 2001, or a death like Abraham Lincoln, the flag is flown at half staff for 30 days as a representation of the whole nation being in a state of mourning It’s called ‘half staff’ on land, and ‘half mast’ on a ship.
9) Of the six American flags that are planted on the moon, five of them are still standing. Which one is not? The first one, planted by Neil Armstrong during the Apollo 11 mission.
10) According to the U.S. Flag Code website, when the American flag is flown at night it must be illuminated; it should never be flown in bad weather; it can only be flown upside down to signal distress; it must be raised quickly and lowered slowly; and no other flag can be placed above it. The flag should be flown during school days in or near every school building. It’s a myth that the flag must be burned if it touches the ground. The flag must be burned if it’s damaged and is no longer suitable for flying.