The best and most well-known symbol of the United States is its flag. The distinctive coloring and figures on it, emphasize an American presence. As a symbol of national pride, there is none other, save the bald eagle. There are so many interesting facts about the United States flag, from its dimensions and origins, the etiquette to be followed, to the rich history of the United States flag. Your knowledge of the United States is incomplete without trivia about the flag.
Facts About the Star Spangled Banner
Nicknames: The Stars and Stripes; Red, White and Blue; Old Glory; The Star Spangled Banner.
The moniker "Old Glory" was given by Captain Stephen Driver in 1831.
It is made up of 13 equal horizontal stripes of red and white (alternating), with a blue rectangle in the top-left corner.
The blue rectangle has 50 small, white, 5 points stars. They are arranged in 9 horizontal rows of 6 and 5 stars respectively, arranged in an alternate fashion.
The stripes stand for the 13 colonies that originally constituted the United States of America. The stars represent the present 50 states of the Union.
The common sizes used for the United States Flag are 2x3 ft or 4x6 ft, 2.5x4 ft or 5x8 ft and 3x5 ft or 6x10 ft.
The red, white and blue colors on the flag have a special significance set down by the Congress in 1877. Red stands for hardiness and valor. White signifies purity and innocence. Blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.
Robert E. Peary, an American explorer who reached the North Pole, left fragments of the American flag in the North Pole, at each "farthest norths" reached.
The first time and foreign location, where the American flag was flown, was in 1805 at Fort Derne in Tripoli, Libya.
The flag flying proud, at Fort McHenry, Baltimore after a British bombardment, inspired Francis Scott Key to write "Star-Spangled Banner" in 1814. But it was recognized as the national anthem in 1931.
Facts About the United States Flag - Etiquette
The flag should be flown at full staff, compulsorily on the following days:
- New Year's Day (Jan 1st)
- Martin Luther King's birthday (Jan 3rd)
- Inauguration Day (Jan 20, once every 4 years)
- Abraham Lincoln's birthday (Feb 12th)
- President's Day (third Monday of February)
- Armed Forces Day (3rd Saturday of May)
- Flag Day (June 14)
- Independence Day (July 4)
- Labor Day (first Monday of September)
- Constitution Day (17th September)
- Columbus Day (second Monday of October)
- Navy Day (27th October)
- Veterans Day (November 11)
- Thanksgiving Day (fourth Thursday of November)
The flag is flown at half staff, until noon, on Memorial Day, in memory of those who gave their lives, fighting for the U.S.
Other days when the flag is flown at half-mast, are
- Peace Officers Memorial Day (May 15)
- Patriot Day (Sept 11)
- Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (Dec 7)
- When a past or present President, Vice-President, Chief Justice or Speaker of the House has passed away
- Any day proclaimed by the President
The flag is always at half-mast at 3 locations, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington Cemetery and the Arizona Memorial.
A decoration of golden fringe around the perimeter of the flag is permitted, as long as it does not deface or tamper with the flag proper.
The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is only allowed in response to a salute from a foreign nation ship.
A tattered or decrepit flag should be disposed of in a dignified manner, like burning at a formal ceremony.
A flag flown upside down is a distress signal.
The flag should never be allowed to touch the ground and should be illuminated, if flown at night.
The flag can be draped over any deceased person's coffin, according to the Flag Code.
The flag should be folded into a triangular shape, for storage. Each fold has a special significance.
No other flag should be placed above it. The flag of the United States is always the first flag to be raised, and the last to be lowered.
When saluting the flag, civilians should place their right hand over the heart and any head coverings should be removed. Those in the military should give the formal military salute. Citizens of other countries, should stand at attention.
The above are some facts about the flag of the United States. Remember that, the flag of a nation is more than just a symbol, it is a living entity, representing the nation, at home and abroad. It is a sign of hope in times of strife, symbol of victory, even when defeat is close and above all, faith and pride, in who you are, and where you belong. Treat such a symbol with reverence and respect.