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American Flag Facts
Flag Day is June 14, a day set aside for Americans to honor the country’s flag. In celebration of Flag Day, here are some American flag facts and trivia you may not know.
- Flag Day originated in Wisconsin in 1885 when school teacher Bernard J. Cigrand began celebrating the flag’s birthday. He assigned his class to write essays about the flag and its significance.
- The flag is not exactly red, white, and blue. The actual official colors of the American flag as defined by the Color Association of the U.S. are “white,” “Old Glory Red,” and “Old Glory Blue.” The red symbolizes hardiness and valor, white symbolizes purity and innocence, and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.
- While the Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross is famously known for designing the flag, there is no evidence that she actually did so. She wasn’t even credited for it until 40 years after her death.
- The most common nicknames for the American flag are The Stars and Stripes, The Star-Spangled Banner, The Red, White, and Blue, and Old Glory. While “Old Glory” is now synonymous with any American flag, the origin of the name relates to a specific flag that was owned by Captain William Driver. The original Old Glory is on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.
- The pilot of the show “Gilligan’s Island” finished filming on the same day that President Kennedy was assassinated – November 22, 1963. That’s why you will see the United States flag flying half-staff in the distance during the opening sequence of the first-season episodes of the series.
- The 50th star, representing Hawaii, was added to the United States flag in 1960, one year after Hawaii became a state.
- There are many Federal Laws related to the display of the United States flag. Among them, as detailed in section 8 of the CRS Report for Congress, are:
- The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
- 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.
- No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform.
- Walmart reported that on September 11, 2011 they sold 115,000 American flags. On the same date the year before, they sold only 6,400 flags.
- The U.S. flag is painted backwards on aircraft and space shuttles, with the stars on the upper right hand side, instead of the left. This creates the appearance that the flag is streaming like a real flag, flying with the wind and not against it, as the aircraft is moving forward. The flag is worn the same way on military uniforms for a similar reason, to look as if it is going forward with the soldier, never retreating.
- There’s an American Flag app on iTunes which features the history of the flag, trivia, flag-related song lyrics, and more.