Celebrate Flag Day with these patriotic inspirations.
How did the iconic red, white, and blue come to be? These shades now synonymous with freedom, equality, and baseball inspire patriotic pride throughout the country. The rich story behind these historic hues may surprise you.
Display your patriotic pride year round with a DIY painted flag.
History of the Flag
What is known is that the first unofficial national flag, called the Grand Union Flag or the Continental Colours, was raised at the order of General Washington near his headquarters outside Boston, Mass., on Jan. 1, 1776. The flag had 13 alternating red and white horizontal stripes and the British Union Flag in the canton.
The first official national flag, also known as the Stars and Stripes, was approved by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. The blue canton contained 13 stars, representing the original 13 colonies.
After Vermont and Kentucky were admitted to the Union in 1791 and 1792, respectively, two more stars and two more stripes were added in 1795. This 15-star, 15-stripe flag was the “star-spangled banner” that inspired lawyer Francis Scott Key to write the poem that later became the U.S. national anthem.
In 1818, after five more states had gained admittance, Congress passed legislation fixing the number of stripes at 13 and requiring that the number of stars equal the number of states. Before 1912 there were no specific guidelines as to how the flag should look. President Taft presented guidelines regarding the configuration of the stars in the 48-star flag. The last new star, bringing the total to 50, was added on July 4, 1960, after Hawaii became a state.
Through the words of the founding father himself, we gain a perspective of the American flag. “We take the stars and blue union from heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing liberty,” interpreted George Washington in 1777.
Today the flag consists of thirteen horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with six white. The stripes represent the original 13 colonies, the stars represent the 50 states of the Union. The colors of the flag are symbolic as well: Red symbolizes Hardiness and Valor, White symbolizes Purity and Innocence and Blue represents Vigilance, Perseverance and Justice.
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