24 Cool Facts About the U.S. Flag

Throughout our school years and service in the Army, or any other military branch, we should have learned many things about out wonderful United States Flag.

You should know that it flies above any other flags, and it has 50 stars. You probably know that Betsy Ross designed and sewed the flag, and you surely know that Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner as he viewed the flag during the War. But, I bet there are many things you don’t know.

I discovered quite a few facts about “Old Glory” that I didn’t know as I was researching this article. So, today’s post is 24 cool facts about the U.S. Flag.

1: What The Colors Represent

There is meaning behind those 3 colors:

  • Red stands for bravery and valor

  • White stands for innocence and purity

  • Blue stands for vigilance, justice and perseverance

2: What The Stars And Stripes Represent

While most of us know that the stars are representing each State, and the stripes represent the original 13 colonies, there is more meaning behind them:

  • Stars represent the heavens to which man is reaching for in a divine goal

  • Stripes represent the rays that emanate from the sun

3: When A New Star Is Added

Are you yelling at your computer screen? Yes, I know that you know it is when a State is added. It has been a long time since that happened, but do you know exactly when? It is on July 4th of the year following that State is admitted to the Union.

As a resident of Puerto Rico, many of us are quite curious when the 51st Star will be added making Puerto Rico a State.

4: Where The Flag Was First Flown

The U.S. Flag was first raised high and flown over Fort Stanwix where present day Rome, New York sits. The day was August 3rd, 1777.

5: Who Named Her “Old Glory?”

In 1831, Captain William Driver named the U.S. Flag that waved gloriously over the ship he commanded “Old Glory.” He protected that flag with all his might from Confederates who tried to steal it. The original flag that Driver called “Old Glory” is in the Smithsonian Institution.

6: Foreign Salute

On February 13th, 1778, Admiral LaMotte Piquet of France faced the United States flag and gave her the first foreign salute.

7: 15…Yes 15

When the design of the flag was accepted, our forefathers had no sight into the future. The idea was to add 1 star and 1 stripe for every State added. So, when Vermont and Kentucky were added, we had 15 States, and the flag had 15 stripes and 15 stars. This was the same flag that Francis Scott Key viewed during the War of 1812 when he wrote the Star Spangled Banner. The realization came that adding a stripe for each State would be difficult, so the direction to leave 13 stripes for the 13 original colonies was made.

8: 27

Since the creation of the U.S. Flag, there have been 27 different official versions. There have been many more unofficial versions.

9: The Moon

Every time astronauts landed on the moon, they would plant a United States flag. Of the 6 that have been planted on the moon, 5 are still standing. The first one planted by Neil Armstrong fell.

10: Acts

There have been primarily 6 Acts or Executive Orders over the years in regards to U.S. Flag design. They are:

  1. 6/14/1777 The flag resolution that stated it would have 13 stripes with alternating red and white stripes. There would be 13 stars of white on a blue field.

  2. 1/13/1794 There will be 15 stripes and 15 stars as of May of 1795.

  3. 4/4/1818 The re-adaptation of 13 stripes, but 1 star for each State to be added on July 4th after acceptance in the Union.

  4. 6/24/1912 President Taft signed an Executive Order stating the exact proportions of the flag including the stars and that one star point must face upward.

  5. 1/3/1959 President Eisenhower signed an Executive Order changing the star rows because of additions of States.

  6. 8/21/1959 President Eisenhower signed an Executive Order rearranging the stars into rows and columns of 11 and 9.

11: Since 1960

Our current flag has been the longest since any changes have been made to it. The 50 star version has been in place since July 4th of 1960. As a resident of Puerto Rico, many of us wonder if this commonwealth of the U.S. will become a State. Will there be a 51st star?

12: Betsy Ross

While the majority of us were taught that George Washington visited Betsy Ross and requested she design and sew the original flag of the United States, there is a lot of evidence that Betsy Ross had no part of making the flag. The truth be told, Francis Hopkinson who was a Naval flag designer, also designed the first United States flag.

Other posts you may enjoy:

  1. The History of the US Flag
  2. Flags in Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery: My Best Memorial Weekend Ever
  3. Veteran Burial Benefits: What You Should Know
  4. 19 Tips On How To Raise Patriotic Kids
  5. Top 17 Army Customs and Courtesies Every Soldier Should Know

13: Desecration

We have seen pictures and videos of people desecrating the United States flag. While many believe these people should be arrested, the law of the land states that they have the right to do so. Desecration of the U.S. flag is protected by the Freedom of Speech. But, anyone who does so better not walk down a dark alley, because those of us who honor our flag may be there waiting.

14: Our Current Flag Designer

The designer of our current flag was a 17 year old High School student from Ohio. In 1958, as a class project Robert Heft designed the flag and received a B- grade. The teacher of the class agreed that if Robert’s flag was accepted by Congress, the grade would be changed. Long story made short…Robert received an A and the U.S. received the current flag.

15: Continuous Flag Display

There are many locations where the flag is on continuous display. Some of them are:

  • The White House

  • The Moon as mentioned earlier

  • Fort McHenry National Monument and Flag House Square in Baltimore, Maryland (the 15 stars and stripes)

  • The South Pole

  • The Marine Corps War Memorial at Arlington, Virginia

  • Certain airport terminals in New Jersey, Boston and more in remembrance of 9/11

  • The Battle Green in Lexington, Massachusetts

  • All U.S. Customs Ports

  • And many more

16: The Pledge

While no longer mandatory in schools, when I went to school, we said the Pledge of Allegiance before classes every day. Standing with our hands on our hearts, we quoted the words written by Francis Bellamy. His original version did not include Under God because he was adamant about the separation of Church and State. It read:

I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Flag Etiquette

There are rules…. some unwritten and some are written. While many of these rules are broken, they are proper flag etiquette, and I hope that some of the people who are breaking them, read this article and change how they treat our flag.

17: Dipping

In 1908 during the Olympics being held in London, nations were asked to “dip” their flags to King Edward VII. The American flag would not be dipped by the flag bearer. The American Flag will never be dipped to an Earthly King or Ruler, or any other object.

18: The Ground

The U.S. Flag should never touch the ground.

19: Night Flight

If the U.S. Flag is flown at night, it is to be illuminated.

20: Advertising

Here is one that I have seen broken quite often: the U.S. Flag is to not be used for any type of advertising reasons.

21: On Disposable Items

The United States Flag should not be printed, embroidered, etc…on any item that will be disposed of in a short time. This is another one that is often broken.

22: Wearing Apparel

This is one I didn’t realize. We do see people wearing t-shirts, shorts, Uncle Sam costumes and more that are depictions of “Old Glory.” Proper flag etiquette says that the flag or depictions of it should not be wore as clothing.

23: How Carried

I have seen this broken often, but the U.S. Flag should never be carried flat or horizontal. It is to be carried high, and free to wave. It should be free, as we are free.

24: Half Staff

There are a variety of times when the U.S. Flag should be flown at half staff. These are some of those cases:

  • On Memorial Day the Flag is quickly raised to full and then lowered to half and stays there until noon when it is raised back to full.

  • On September 11th, Patriot Day.

  • On December 7th which is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

  • For 30 days after the death of any former or current U.S. President.

  • For 10 days after the death of a Vice President, Supreme Court Chief Justice who is either serving or retired, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

  • On the day following the death of any Senators, Members of Congress or the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico.

There are other situations that the U.S. Flag should fly at half staff. If you have more you want added, please tell us in the comment area below.

Final Thoughts

The U.S. Flag is our sign of freedom and democracy. It deserves respect. It saddens me when I see the non-respect the Flag has been given.

What are your thoughts? Please give your opinions or questions below, and I hope you learned something about our flag you did not know.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)
Publisher, Part-Time-Commander.com
Email: mrchuckholmes@gmail.com

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