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June 14, 2012

A historical look at the US Flag on this Flag Day!

A look at each version of the American Flag.
Are you looking for a quick American flag history lesson? You've come to the right place! You can learn a little history about American flags here, and see what each version of the historical American flags looked like.


Some people display their American flags every day, while others display it on patriotic holidays - Flag Day, Independence Day, Memorial Day and others. There is just something about seeing the American flag waving in the breeze, it is so beautiful!

The next time you see the stars and stripes flying, take a moment to think about the American flag history and the sacrifices that have been made protecting it.

"Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation."

The American Flag history began with the words above. These words were written on June 14, 1777, when the Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution establishing a new flag design for the United States.

History of Flag Day
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation making June 14th National Flag Day. We now celebrate Flag Day each year on June 14th. Many local and state celebrations occurred on that day prior to 1916.


That year it was proclaimed an official national holiday. In 1949, during Harry Truman's term, Congress signed a law making June 14th national Flag day every year, with a flag day proclamation to be given annually.


History of American Flag
The first United States flag was the Stars and Stripes flag. Prior to June 14th, 1777, the Grand Union Flag still bore the Union Jack in its design.

The resolution signed on June 14th, 1777 gave no instruction as to how many points the stars should have, nor did it mention how those stars should be arranged on the blue union. Because of this, stars were arranged in various ways on the blue background. One of the popular designs during this time was the Betsy Ross flag.


Fun Fact: The earliest known depiction of a U.S. flag was found at an old encampment at Pluckemin, New Jersey. This camp was occupied by troops in 1778-1779. The plate was mistakenly engraved with 14 stripes instead of 13.

Another popular flag in America's history was the Bennington flag. It was used by the American militia during the Battle of Bennington, August 16, 1777.

In 1795, the number of stars and stripes was increased from 13 to 15 to reflect the entry of Vermont and Kentucky as states of the union. It was this flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star Spangled Banner.

Five more states had been admitted to the Union by 1818, and legislation was passed by the United States Congress requiring that the stripes on the American flag be fixed at thirteen, one stripe for each of the 13 original colonies. The stars would number how ever many states were admitted to the Union, with each star representing one state. The last star was added on July 4th, 1960, after Hawaii became the 50th state. This 50 state flag is the one that is still used today.

American Flag Colors and Flag Color Meanings
While there are differing opinions on rather the colors in the American flag represent anything, some believe that they represent the same things as the colors in the Great Seal.


White signifies purity and innocence
Red signifies hardiness & valor
Blue signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice



"The colours of the pales are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valor, and Blue, the colour of the Chief signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice. The Olive branch and arrows denote the power of peace & war which is exclusively vested in Congress. The Constellation denotes a new State taking its place and rank among other sovereign powers. 

The Escutcheon is born on the breast of an American Eagle without any other supporters to denote that the United States of America ought to rely on their own Virtue."

Charles Thompson, Secretary of the Continental Congress, in his Remarks and Explanation of the Great Seal – June 20, 1782


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