American Flag

Basic facts about the American Flag

American Flag

'Stars and Stripes' and 'Old Glory' are the two most prominent names for the national flag of the United States. In 1814, Francis Scott Key wrote a poem that became the American National Anthem, in which he referred to the flag as the 'Star Spangled Banner'. The American flag stands for the land, the people, the government and the ideals of the United States and 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 representing the 13 original colonies. It also said that the Union would consist of thirteen white stars on a blue field which would be symbolic of a new constellation, but left no record indicating as to why they chose the specific colors of the flag.

On April 14, 1818, Congress ordered that a star be added for each new state that joined the Union. Currently, the flag contains 50 stars which represent the fifty states. Even though it appears that the colors did not have a specific meaning at the time the flag was created, they did become significant for the flag after the same colors were chosen for the Great Seal of the Unites States in 1782. The Congressional resolution on the Great Seal listed meanings for the following colors:

The colors

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

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.