Independence Day – USA

Happy Fourth of July, Fanatics! Today provides the opportunity for me to celebrate the flag of the United States of America, my all-time favorite flag. 

For our readers outside of the States, Fourth of July is American Independence Day, where, in 1776, the American colonies declared independence from Great Britain, marking the start of the American Revolutionary War. And what better way to celebrate this day than to talk about the flag of the United States!

The current flag of the United States of America

Now, there is so much literature out there discusses the American Flag, both the current design and past designs. Therefore, instead of writing a full review of the flag (which I definitely will do in a future post), I decided to provide some brief facts about the American flag. They only skim the surface of the flag’s rich history, but are interesting nonetheless.

  • Each five-pointed white star in the upper hoist blue canton represents a state in the Union.
  • The 13 alternating red and white horizontal stripes represent the original 13 colonies which declared independence from England on July 4, 1776.
  • The Continental Congress resolution on June 14, 1777, details the official flag of the new United States, stating the 13 red and white stripes as well as the 13 white stars on a blue background; the resolution, however, does not specify the arrangement of the stars, nor does it state the stars should be five-pointed. Thus, the arrangement of the 13 stars in a circle (the Betsy Ross flag) or in parallel rows (the Francis Hopkinson’s design) both adhered to the requirements. The official arrangement of the stars would not be established until 1912.
The Betsy Ross design
The Frances Hopkinson design
  • The American flag used between 1794 and 1818 inspired Frances Scott Key to write a poem during the War of 1812 when he saw the flag still flying over Fort McHenry after a long night of British naval bombardment. It is the only American flag design not to have 13 stripes. This flag contained 15 stars and 15 stripes. The poem written by Key would become the words to the United States’ national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner” (a nickname also given to this unique flag).
A digital recreation of the Star-Spangled Banner flag flown at Fort McHenry
  • There is an official U.S. flag code detailing how to properly handle and display the flag in a variety of scenarios, but the code is not meant to be enforceable, but act as a set of guidelines. The flag code goes into such specifics as where the blue canton should rest when suspending the flag vertically over a street.
  • When a new state is admitted into the Union, a new star is added to the flag on the succeeding Fourth of July following the state’s admittance.
  • The current fifty-star American flag has a unique 10:19 ratio. It is also the longest-serving flag of the United States, having been used since July 1960, when Hawaii was the 50th state admitted into the Union.
  • For one year, between July 1959 and July 1960, the American flag had 49 stars. Hawaii would be admitted to the Union in August of 1959, and, therefore, its star would not be officially added to the flag until July 4, 1960.
The 49 star American flag, used from July 1959 – July 1960
  • The Grand Union flag is considered the first official flag of the United States. It consisted of 13 alternating red and white stripes, but instead of white stars on a blue field, the canton contained the Union Jack. This was used by America until Continental Congress officially defined the flag as having 13 white stars on a blue field in 1777.

Hope you enjoyed this quick post and learned something new. Thank you for reading. 

Happy Independence Day, America!


Sources

4 U.S.C. § 1 et seq. Office of the Law Revision Counsel. https://uscode.house.gov

The History of the Stars and Stripes. (2010, February 16). National Parks Service. Retrieved 2021, from https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/flag/h_doc_100-247/sec1.htm

Office of Governor David Y. Ige. (n.d.). 50 Fun Facts about the 50th State. Governor of the State of Hawai’i. Retrieved 2021, from https://governor.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/50-Fun-Facts-about-the-50th-State.pdf

“The Spangled Banner”—From Song, to Anthem, to Icon. (2020, September 11). National Parks Service. Retrieved 2021, from https://www.nps.gov/fomc/learn/historyculture/the-national-anthem.htm

United States Department of State Identity and Marking Standards. (2012, June). Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. https://eca.state.gov/files/bureau/state_department_u.s._flag_style_guide.pdf

Znamierowski, A. (2020). The World Encyclopedia of Flags. Lorenz Books.