27th American Flag: History, Facts and Significance
Here are ten fascinating things you need to know about the current U.S. Flag: a proud national symbol of the people of U.S.A.
Design of the 50-star iteration came from an unlikely source
Before Hawaii and Alaska became recognized as new states of the U.S., the flag carried 48 stars. In an attempt to inclusively represent the new states on the national flag, the U.S. government called for a new flag design. They got a brilliant solution from an unexpected source.
A high school student by name Robert G. Hert did a flag project and gave it to his teacher. His 50-star project, which he pieced together using a fabric and iron materials, dazzled his teacher. The teacher gave him grade “B” and dared him that if he wasn’t satisfied, he should hope for a better grade from the government. Unexpectedly, the U.S. government chose the student’s flag design, among over 1000 competitors.
The U.S. Flag briefly had 15 stripes
If you had enough patience to count the alternating stretch of red and white colors on the flag, starting with red at the top, you end up with the number 13. The 13 stripes represent the first states of the U.S. that gained independence from Britain in 1776. Interestingly, the first flag started with 13 stripes but Kentucky and Vermont pushed the number of stripes to 15 when they became members of the Union in the early 1790s. Americans realized that it would be such a weird idea to be changing the number of stripes anytime a new state joined the Union. Hence, Congress decided to go back to the original 13-striped flag.
The Colors of the Flag Have Deep Meanings
Everybody admires the beautiful colors of America’s Old Glory. How about if you understood the meanings of the red, blue and white colors of the flag? You would even admire it better. Surprisingly, the colors of the flag didn’t carry any meanings until 1782 when Congress assigned deep interpretations to the colors of the flag.
Secretary of the Continental Congress Charles Thompson interpreted the colors as follows: Red denotes the hardy nature of American citizens. They are courageous. The blue stands for justice, watchfulness, and perseverance. The white color represents the pure nature of Americans and their lawfulness.
The First American Flag was Officially Flown in 1777
A year before the American Revolutionary wars, the U.S. didn’t have an official national emblem (a flag). This was such a disgrace for a powerful nation which was preparing for war. A patriotic American by name Thomas Green realized that it was important for him to fly along with an American flag during his journey to Philadelphia. With no flag available, he sent a congressional petition demanding a flag be designed.
Green even offered to pay for the cost of the flag. On 14th June, 1777, Congress consequently created a resolution which gave birth to the first Flag. Today, Americans celebrate 14th June as Flag Day. The 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, shares the same birthday as the U.S. Flag Day.
Burning is One of the Recommended Ways of Disposing the Flag
This sounds odd, but that is the fact. American lawmakers have outlined codes (guidelines) regarding the proper way of disposing the US flag. The Flag Code recommends burning as the most dignified way of discarding flags that have lost their appeal as a national symbol.
As part of civil defiance, some angry protesters resort to burning as a way of disrespecting the dignity of the flag. The law does not consider what they do as a crime because their actions are permissible under the First Amendment.
The First Amendment allows for Flag Desecration
Interestingly, no American can ever be jailed or sanctioned for desecrating the flag. On two occasions, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that desecration of the US flag is not a crime because it is a form of expression (a symbolic expression). And like all expressions in the U.S., the First Amendments to the US Constitution guarantees freedom of speech.
As a national symbol, the flag also defends those freedoms. Here, it becomes clear that prosecuting a person for mishandling a flag violates the freedoms guaranteed by the Amendments (and even the flag itself).
However, during the Vietnam War, there were attempts by Congress to establish flag protection laws. But the US Supreme Court ruled against the legislation, defending that a flag law would violate an individual’s right to disprove that symbol.
- History and Significance of the U.S. Bill of Rights (the First 10 Amendments)
- James Madison – Life, Presidency & Legacy
The American Flag has Great Nicknames
We mentioned one of the Nicknames of the U.S. flag earlier: Old Glory. But that isn’t all, the current flag is also called the Star-Spangled Banner. Old Glory takes it history from a ship captain known as William Driver.
During the American Civil War, Captain Driver had an American flag at Tennessee which measured 3 m × 5 m. He named his flag Old Glory. When Tennessee broke away from the Union, militias made unsuccessful efforts to destroy his flag. William Driver protected the flag until the war ended. He then presented his flag to the leader of the Union troops. William Driver’s loyal efforts to protect the flag was the reason why all American flags came to be nicknamed Old Glory.
American Flags have been fixed on the Moon
Deep in space, on the surface of the moon, American Apollo astronauts planted about 5 U.S. flags. Most people know that Neil Armstrong was the first man to step foot on the moon. The fact is: he and his fellow astronauts stepped there with American flags. The date of that giant leap for mankind was on 16th July 1969.
There are also US Flags on the Peak of Mount Everest
In 1963, a group of American mountaineers (Jim Whittaker, Barry Bishop, Lute Jerstad) placed the first US flag on Mount Everest. They were given high awards by U.S. President F. Kennedy. Ten years earlier, in 1953, the first climbers of Everest placed British flags on top of the highest mountain.
The 50-Star Flag is the Longest-used Flag in American history
Since its early adoption, the American flag has been redesigned 27 times; the current flag iteration has been in operation for more than half a century (since Hawaii joined the Union in 1959), setting a big record as the longest used American flag.
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