What better way to celebrate the 4th of July than to proudly display our flag? It represents all things America. Its iconic stature has been a symbol of freedom and liberty to the rest of the world for hundreds of years.
(Psst: If you’re wondering where you can find a light-up flag like the one below, click here.)
Interesting facts behind Old Glory
Do you know how the flag’s configuration was adopted? I admit I had forgotten some of my history about our flag’s evolution. There is much argument and dubious collateral information about Old Glory’s transformation. Everything from the first flag flown to the individual(s) who were part of the decision to officially create its design. So, let’s step back 245 years. At that time, there wasn’t one singular flag that represented all that fought for our nation’s independence.
Betsy Ross was purportedly asked by General George Washington to sew the first flag for the Continental Army. It is plausible she met with Washington as both attended the same church. Although she wasn’t credited with that accolade until 1870, she was credited with convincing Washington to change the six-point star, that had been brandished in unofficial flags, to the established official five-point star. On June 14, 1777, the second Continental Congress passed a resolution that our flag officially be comprised of thirteen alternating red and white stripes, representing the then original colonies, and the union be thirteen white stars on a blue field. June 14th becomes what we know today as Flag Day.
Jump to the 1950s
Since our first thirteen-star design, our country has proudly flown twenty-six flags, each representing the inclusion of states. The official fifty-star flag we herald today was celebrated in July 1960. Well into Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidency, a dilemma occurred – how to add one star for Alaska and then one more representing Hawaii, as each would alter the then forty-eight star official flag design. This challenge soon caught the public’s attention. Over the next few years more than 3,000 unsolicited drawings and sewn mock-ups were submitted to the White House, Congress and federal agencies. It is reported that Eisenhower commissioned a military and civilian committee to find the winning candidate which ended as a flag of five rows of six stars staggered with four rows of five stars.
Three of the more interesting finalists
The Veterans of Foreign Wars endorsed this circle of stars to accompany the red and white stripes, which they say represented unbroken unity, ringing a large star which stood for the polar star of Divine Guidance for our nation.
The second design of high interest was this submission with the inscription IN GOD WE TRUST.
The design considered most unique was the “1776” configuration of all fifty state’s stars submitted by Estell Arthur Owens, January 21, 1959.
According to the North American Vexillological Association, the colors of our flag represent:
- Red: valor and bravery
- White: purity and innocence
- Blue: vigilance, perseverance, and justice
Old Glory today
The current official fifty-star flag was ceremoniously raised for the first time on July 4, 1960, at Fort McHenry, in Baltimore, Maryland, the place where Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the “Star Spangled Banner.” If you ever find yourself at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., you can view the original 1813 Star Spangled Banner Flag that inspired the song.
If you are interested in sifting through the dubious data regarding Old Glory, its symbolism and history, these websites will keep you entertained and informed: North American Vexillological Association, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, U.S. Flag Depot, Inc. (for National Historic Registry flags); and History.com for the story behind Betsy Ross’ flag.