The Flag
eagle

The U.S. flag has undergone many changes since the first official flag of 1777. On June 14, 1777 , the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act, which said that the flag would be made up of thirteen alternating red and white stripes and thirteen white stars on a blue field. Stars have been added to the flag as new states join the union. Currently, the flag contains 50 stars.

Ever wonder why the flag is red, white, and blue? While the flag's colors did not have a specific meaning at the time, the colors were significant for the Great Seal of 1782.

White: Signifies purity and innocence
Red: Signifies valor and bravery
Blue: Signifies Vigilance, perseverance, and justice

Why stars and stripes? Stars are considered a symbol of the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial; the stripe is symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun.

Facts About the U.S. Flag

How many stars and stripes are on the flag?

There are 50 stars representing the 50 states and there are 13 stripes representing the 13 original states.

Flag: thirteen equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; there is a blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing 50 small white five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars (top and bottom) alternating with rows of five stars; the 50 stars represent the 50 states, the 13 stripes represent the 13 original colonies; known as Old Glory; the design and colors have been the basis for a number of other flags including Chile, Liberia, Malaysia, and Puerto Rico.

Source: CIA -- The World Factbook -- United States

When are new stars added to the flag?

A new star is added to the flag on the July 4th following the entry into the Union of the new state.

What are the specifications for the colors of the flag?

In the Pantone system the colors are: Blue PMS 282 and Red PMS 193.

Who made the first flag and when?

Betsy Ross, made the first flag. Information on Betsy Ross, the history of the flag and on flag etiquette may be found at the Betsy Ross Home Page maintained by the Independence Hall Association of Philadelphia.

Any other questions?

The Flag of the United States includes the history of the flag, graphics of historic and current flags and an invaluable collection of flag FAQs.

Proper Display of Flag

* Display of the American flag is usually from sunrise to sunset.

* The flag should be displayed daily on or near the main building of every public place and during school days in or near every schoolhouse.

* Flags are flown at half-staff to show grief for lives lost. When the flag is flown at half-staff, it should be pulled to the top for a moment, and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should then be raised to the top before it is lowered for the day.

* When two or more flags are flown from the same pole, the American flag must be on top.

* When displayed with another flag against a wall, the U.S. flag should be on its own right (left to a person facing the wall).

flag
Explore USA
Explore the USA
Facts about the USA
Washington, D.C.
Explore the 50 states
Commonwealths and Territories
National Symbols
Explore USA Jump Back in Time! Meet the Americans The Government Let's Celebrate Life in U.S. For Teachers
Home