With Flag Day in the rearview mirror and the 4th of July coming up soon, I thought it would be fun to share a few American flag facts, some commonly known and others…not so much. All interspersed with some mighty patriotic looking homes!
Please note that this post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
A Few Basic American Flag Facts
- The blue portion of the flag is specifically called the “union”. Thirteen alternating white and red stripes represent the original thirteen British colonies that declared independence from Great Britain and became the first thirteen states of the United States.
- Nicknames for the American flag include Old Glory, the Stars and Stripes, and the Star-Spangled Banner.
- The current design of the American flag is the 27th, with the last modification being made in 1960 under President Dwight D. Eisenhower to add the final state of the Union (Hawaii).
- The Flag Resolution was passed by the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777, resulting in the annual Flag Day holiday.
- The only flag to have fifteen stripes instead of thirteen was under the Flag Act of 1794 when Vermont and Kentucky were admitted to the Union. In 1818 this reverted to thirteen stripes, calling for new states to be represented by an additional star.
- It was the fifteen stripe flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write The Star-Spangled Banner which became the national anthem.
- The Flag Resolution did not dictate the arrangement of the stars, nor did it indicate how many red stripes vs. white stripes (just that they had to be alternating). The design was therefore left to the flag maker.
- The official colors of the flag were not defined until 1934 when the exact colors were defined as White, Old Glory Red, and Old Glory Blue. Only flags made for the government need to have these very specific shades, whereas flags manufactured for sale to the public often have more saturated red and blue colors.
- Similarly, flags made for the federal government have very specific dimensions, whereas flags sold to the public tend to be more standard sizes such as 3×5 or 4×6.
- The American flag may be decorated with fringe as long as it doesn’t deface the flag itself. There is no symbolism to the fringe and anyone may use it, though it is seen most commonly in ceremonial displays.
American Flag Etiquette
I fly an American flag at my house for a good part of the year, usually from early spring until winter weather starts in earnest. Though I don’t agree with everything happening in our country at all times, I do love my country and believe in its foundation despite the highs and lows.
I think the flag represents our aspirations as citizens, recognizing we are always striving to be better and do better. Plus, let’s be honest, it’s beautiful! Displaying the red, white, and blue can add an extra touch to your home’s exterior. So what IS the best way to display the flag?
Official guidelines for American flag etiquette can be found in full in the United States Flag Code. There are some very specific and detailed rules of display, but here are some key highlights:
- The flag should only be displayed during daylight hours unless it is illuminated at night.
- The flag should not be displayed in inclement weather unless an all-weather flag is displayed.
- The American flag should be displayed on or near the main administration building of any public institution, of any school, and of any polling place.
- When on American soil, no flag should be placed above the American flag or, if at the same level, to the right of the American flag (or to the observer’s left). When hoisting multiple flags, the American flag should go up first and come down last.
- When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they should be mounted on separate staffs and should be hung at the same level. During peacetime, no nation’s flag should be displayed higher than another.
- If the American flag is displayed vertically or horizontally against a wall, the union of the flag (the blue portion) should be on the upper left from the observer’s point of view. If hung from a staff, the union should always be at the peak. A flag hung with the union down is a sign of distress.
- The American flag should always be able to fly freely, and not held or carried flat (although you have probably seen this rule broken many times!)
- When a flag becomes tattered, faded, or otherwise worn, it should be replaced and disposed of properly.
Of course, will all of these dos, there are even more dont’s! I’m sure you know most of them, but here goes: Don’t let the American flag touch the ground. Don’t wear the American flag as clothing. Don’t use the American flag in advertising. Don’t dip the American flag to others.
Don’t use the American flag as any type of drapery or to cover a display. Don’t apply the American flag to anything that can be discarded after temporary use (napkins, anyone?) There are more of course, but you get the gist!
Another beautiful way to decorate for the patriotic holidays in addition to flying the flag is to hang patriotic bunting. Some homes will display bunting from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Bunting should also be used in lieu of the American flag when draping a podium, for example.
Here are a few homes with bunting to serve as inspiration!
So How Many Stars ARE on the American Flag?
Why, fifty of course! One to represent each state in the Union, as it stands today. Did you expect a different answer? Some people think U.S. Territories are represented by a star, but that is not the case. If another state is ever added to the Union, a new design for the flag will be needed to accommodate the new star.
Did you learn something new about the American flag from this article? Please let me know how you display the red, white, and blue. Don’t have an American flag yet? Find all you need here, from flags to bunting, to flag poles, and mounting brackets.
There are other ways to add some patriotic flair to your home, including festive door decor. Some of my favorite finds can be found here, including this beauty below.
[x_author title=”About the Author”]