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Stars & Stripes
The American flag, created on June 14, 1777, is a national symbol of patriotism, honour and respect. Also known as the Stars and Stripes, Old Glory and the Star-Spangled Banner, the American Flag unites the US country who's people pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America religiously and sing the national anthem at any sporting event there is.
Meaning Behind the Flag’s Red, White and Blue
Before the American Flag was created, the first national flag of the United States was the Grand Union Flag. It also had 13 red and white stripes, but the upper inner corner of the flag displayed a red, white and blue British Union flag instead of the stars that we see today on the U.S. flag.
The red, white and blue color palette from the original British Union Flag did not hold any meaning until the Great Seal of the United States was designed from 1776 to 1782.
From there, Charles Thomson, secretary of the Continental Congress, stated the symbolism of the Great Seal which carried into the U.S. flag. He said, “White signifies purity and innocence. Red, harshness and valor; and Blue signifies vigilance, perseverance, and justice.” Even though there is no official meaning behind the American flag’s red, white and blue, Thomson’s words have existed throughout American traditions and customs since 1782.
What About the Stars and Stripes?
The U.S. flag design includes 50 white stars, representing the 50 states of the union, and seven red stripes and six white stripes that stand for the original 13 British colonies.
In 1977 the House of Representatives wrote, “The star is 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.”
Now that you know the history behind the American flag’s stars and stripes, you can wave your flag with pride and confidence this Fourth of July.
When the American Revolution broke out in 1775, the colonists didn’t yet unite under a single flag. Instead, they fought mainly under unit or regimental flags, such as one flag of the time which featured a picture of a coiled rattlesnake with the slogan, “Don’t Tread on Me,” while another showed a pine tree with the words, “An Appeal to Heaven.”
There really wasn’t anything that was stars and stripes orientated or red, white and blue at the time.
In June 1775, the Second Continental Congress created a united colonial fighting force known as the Continental Army. Some historians claim that George Washington, the army’s commander in chief, ordered that a flag called the Continental Colors be raised the following New Year’s Day during a siege of British-occupied Boston.
The Continental Colors, which contained 13 alternating red and white stripes with a Union Jack in the upper left-hand corner, was only used by the navy and served as a sort of a compromise between the radicals who wanted to see a separate nation and the people who wanted to see some accommodation with the crown.
The Second Continental Congress was busy drafting a constitution known as the Articles of Confederation, seeking an alliance with France and supplying the war effort. But on June 14, 1777, it took time from its schedule to pass a resolution stating that “the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white” and that “the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
It later changed to contain 15 stripes and 15 stars, as more states kept joining, including Tennessee in 1796, Ohio in 1803, Louisiana in 1812, Indiana in 1816 and Mississippi in 1817, but the flag continued to feature 15 stripes and 15 stars until 1818, when Congress passed a new act providing for 13 stripes in honor of the 13 original colonies and one star for each new state.
It was almost unheard of for individuals to fly the U.S. flag until the Civil War broke out in 1861, at which time the Stars and Stripes suddenly became a popular symbol.
In 1912, President William Howard Taft signed an executive order that, for the first time, clarified what the flag should look like. Up until then, some flags were oddly proportioned, with six and eight-pointed stars.