Stars and Stripes Forever

Today is Flag Day.  You knew it was Flag Day, right?  Anyway, today is the day that we honor the Stars and Stripes and what better way to celebrate than with a little Flag trivia.

Did you know…

  • There are 13 stripes on the American Flag to honor the 13 original British colonies, including North Carolina, to declare independence from the United Kingdom and which were the first states in the Union. 
  • The current flag was designed by a 17 year old Robert Heft as a high school project after Hawaii and Alaska were inducted into the Union in 1958.  Congress would choose his design and we have been waving it proudly ever since.
  • China is one of the largest makers of the American Flag, exporting $3 million worth of flags every year.
  • A redesign of the current flag may be in the works, especially if Puerto Rico is inducted into the Union as our 51st state.  An initial referendum is expect to be voted on soon and may take place as early as this November.
  • The Flag Code dictates how to properly display and treat the Stars and Stripes.  For instance, if you are planning on a July 4th celebration with paper plates and napkins that have a flag design on them, you should know that the Flag Code Sec. 8 (i)states:  “The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard…” 
  • Up until WWII, the Bellamy Salute was used when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.  Also known as the “flag salute”, this particular salute was invented by James B. Upham (editor of The Youth’s Companion) and was later described by the author of the Pledge of Allegiance, Francis Bellamy, as the proper way to salute the flag when reciting the Pledge.   Since the Bellamy Salute was similar to the Italian Fascist’s and Nazi’s “Roman Salute”, many Americans chose to salute the flag by placing their hand over their heart as a sign of respect.  Congress amended the Flag Code on December 22, 1942 saying that placing your hand over your heart would be the proper way for Americans to show respect for the flag when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance or singing the National Anthem…  A tradition that we still use today.
  • Betsy Ross may not have actually designed the first American Flag.  Scandal!  In 1876, organizers for the Centennial Celebrations were looking for some history on the first American Flag and they came across a claim made in 1870 by Betsy Ross’ grandson that she had sewn and given George Washington the very first flag.  It is a credible claim since Betsy Ross was a local upholsterer and fellow congregant of George Washington’s at Christ Church in Philadelphia.   During the Revolutionary War, Betsy Ross mended uniforms, made blankets and tents and stuffed tubes with musket balls, however there is no historical proof that she actually sewed the very first American Flag.  Have no fear; American folklore is just as American as the flag itself, so wear your Betsy Ross costume with pride this July 4th.

The American Flag is a symbol of our country’s freedom and pride.  Personally, I am looking forward to seeing our flag raised while the National Anthem plays during the Olympic Games in London many, many times.  USA! USA! USA!

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