There is no more
significant symbol of identity, unity and pride than the American flag.
However, it’s difficult to know how this symbol got its start. While tales of
Betsy Ross painstakingly stitching the first flag during the Revolutionary War
made it into folklore, many historians disagree with the account. Truthfully,
though the first where seen around 1776, there is little known about when or
where the first flag was made or displayed. However, the Continental Congress
established the first official flag of the new nation with the Flag Act in
Much more is known about
the most famous of American Flags. Known as the Star-Spangled Banner, the flag
measuring 30 by 42 feet that flew over Fort McHenry, outside Baltimore, during
the War of 1812 was hand sewn by Mary Pickersgill. Seeing the flag waving after
a night of bombardment inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the words for The Star
Spangled Banner as a poem. Eventually, the verses were turned into the song
that became the National Anthem.
The American flag has
undergone many changes throughout history, growing and changing alongside the
nation it represents. The original Flag Act of 1777 described an arrangement of
13 red and white stripes to represent the 13 colonies, as well as 13 stars for
the same reason. In 1794, the numbers were changed to 15 with the additional of
new states. By 1818, as the country continued to grow, it became apparent that
it would not be possible to continue to add stripes. The number of stripes
reverted to 13 in honor of the original colonies and the practice of adding a
star for each new state was established. Several additional versions where
created, until 1959 when the 50-star flag we know today marked the addition of
Hawaii to the nation.
Through the changes, the
red, white and blue palette has remained. Though the founding fathers and the
original Flag Act didn’t detail why the hues were chosen, they mimic the Great
Seal in which white indicates purity and innocence, red represents hardiness
and valor and blue, justice and perseverance.
Displaying the stars and
stripes is a time-honored tradition. Flag poles, flying made in USA banners,
are a beautiful way to publicly showcase national pride. Indoor flag sets,
showcasing American, military and state flags add a poignant and regal look to
offices, schools and public buildings. Memorial flag cases, holding a folded
flag, are a somber, respectful way to honor the sacrifice of a military member.