If you live in one of the 50 U.S. states or a U.S. territory, chances are you see a lot of Old Glory, the preferred nickname for our flag. On June 14, our Flag Day, entertain and educate your friends and family with a few facts about our flag courtesy of This Awful Awesome Life.
Hoping to promote national pride and unity, the Continental Congress adopted the national flag on June 14, 1777. According to their resolution, the flag of the United States was to have thirteen stripes, alternating red and white and the left corner should have a blue field with thirteen white stars representing a new constellation. The stars were placed in a circle so that no one colony would be viewed above another.
After the Battles of Lexington and Concord kicked off the American Revolution, the Congress formally authorized the enlistment of soldiers to fight in what became known as the Continental Army on June 14, 1775, so the birthday of the U.S. Army is also Flag Day. Happy 244th Birthday to the U.S. Army!
Nearly everyone has heard the story of how Betsy Ross sewed the first flag for our new nation, but did you know there are no written records to back up Mrs. Ross’ story? Historians believe Mrs. Ross, a widow who owned an upholstery store probably created the first flag, but the diaries and letters of George Washington, Robert Morris or George Ross make no mention of visiting Mrs. Ross’ shop to commission the first flag. The first official retelling of Betsy Ross’ stories about creating the first flag occurred in March 1870 a few months before America's Centennial. William Canby, a grandson of Betsy Ross, presented a paper to the Pennsylvania Historical Society relating to the world his grandmother's deeds. Canby was only 11 when Betsy passed on in 1836. He relied on his own recollections and provided three sworn affidavits from family members - a daughter, a niece and a granddaughter of Betsy Ross. According to Canby, George Washington and a secret Congressional Committee comprised of Robert Morris and George Ross visited the widowed seamstress with sketches of the proposed flag. Betsy contributed by suggesting a 5-pointed star because it was easier to cut instead the 6-pointed star recommended by Washington. Betsy’s claims were supported by the fact that she lived near the Washington’s, attended the same church and was related to George Ross.
Congress did not adopt an official flag until June 1777, a full year after Betsy claimed to have made the flag. Francis Hopkinson, a New Jersey delegate to the Continental Congress and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, sought payment in 1780 for his design of "the flag of the United States of America" which featured six sided stars and red and white stripes. His request was not approved because it lacked proper documentation. Some people believe an attempt was made to downplay Betsy’s contributions because she was a woman. What do you think?
The U.S. Flag Francis Scott Key observed flying over Fort McHenry when he wrote the poem that would become our national anthem was designed in 1795 with 15 stars and 15 stripes. The newly redesigned flag featured two new stars and two new stripes to the US flag to recognize the addition of two new states, Vermont and Kentucky.
In 1818 Congress decided to return the number of stripes on the flag to thirteen in honor of the original thirteen colonies, but agreed to add stars for each new state.
In 1885 a school teacher named Bernard Ci Grand from Wisconsin held what is believed to be the first Flag Day celebration. It became his life long quest to make Flag Day a holiday.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed a national observance of Flag Day on June 14, but Flag Day is only a legal holiday in one state, Pennsylvania.
The US flag has been changed twenty-seven times.
There are six American flags on the moon. Astronauts from Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17 moon missions planted a flag on the moon.
Look for dozens of other fun facts about our flag online this month. Verify the accuracy of your source and learn something new about U.S. history.