To celebrate Independence Day this year, I offer a combination of flag facts and photos of flags in costume jewelry. Have a safe and festive 4th of July!
When asked about the American flag, the first fact most people will recite is that it was designed by Betsey Ross. However, there is evidence to suggest that her name never came up in conjunction with the flag until 40 years after her death when her grandson first brought up the connection in a speech. She was a flag maker and was given drawings from which she created flags. Who came up with the original design is a mystery.
The American flag has three common nicknames: The Star Spangled Banner, Old Glory and The Stars and Stripes.
Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the American flag on June 14, 1777. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson officially proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day, but it wasn't until 1946 that Congress established a National Holiday.
The top and bottom stripes of the flag are always red and the stars are always five-pointed.
When Vermont and Kentucky, (the 14th and 15th states) entered the Union, a new version of the flag was created that had 15 stars and 15 stripes. The flag that flew at Ft. McHenry during the War of 1812, immortalized in Francis Scott Key’s Star Spangled Banner, is one of the few remaining examples of a 15-star, 15-bar flag. What’s left of it is on permanent display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Some of it was purposefully cut off and sold as souvenirs.
As the U.S. continued to add new states, there was concern about having to continually add additional stripes. The solution was to revert to 13 stripes to represent the original 13 colonies and add stars as necessary to represent the states. During an over a 50-year period in the early 1800's, the flag went through 17 different versions.
The current 50-star flag has been flown since 1960; that's 57 years. Its design is credited to a 17-year-old high school student who created it for a school project.
The colors of the flag have important meanings. Red symbolizes hardiness and valor, white symbolizes purity and innocence, and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice. The Color Card Association of the United States (TCCA) creates the palette of colors used for both private and public institutions, and the U.S. Army issues a reference guide of acceptable shades to be used in local, state and national flags. So if you’re trying to produce a truly authentic American flag, you’ll need to use the exact shades of white, “Old Glory Red” and “Old Glory Blue,” specified in the guide. However, mass-market flag manufacturers have been known to fudge a bit and use the more-easily processed Pantone Matching Shades of Dark Red (193 C) and Navy Blue (281 C).
The flag may be decorated with golden fringe surrounding the perimeter of the flag as long as it does not deface the flag proper.
An Executive Order governs the specific dimensions of the all flags flown for and by the U.S. Government.
A proposed Flag Desecration Amendment, also called the Flag-Burning Amendment, has been brought before Congress many times. The most recent in 2006 would have prohibited not only burning the flag (for political reasons) but printing it on disposable items such as t-shirts or napkins. The amendment has never received enough votes to pass.
And there you have it, flags facts and photos. If you enjoyed this, you may also enjoy this blog post: American Patriotism and Costume Jewelry. Just click here.
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