Around the United States of America

American Flag

The Flag of the United States of America - Known as Old Glory

The Symbolism -
50 stars representing the 50 states
13 stripes representing the 13 original states.

The Colors -
Red and White
- 13 equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white
Blue - Blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing 50 small white five-pointed stars
White Stars - arranged in 9 offset horizontal rows of 6 stars (top and bottom) alternating with rows of 5 stars

National Symbol
" This Star-Spangled Banner and all its successors have come to embody our country, what we think of as America. It may not be quite the same for every one of us who looks at it, but in the end we all pretty much come out where the framers did. We know that we have a country founded on the then revolutionary idea that all of us are created equal, and equally entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." --Pres. William Jefferson Clinton, speaking before the Star-Spangled Banner at the National Museum of American History, July 13, 1998.

Flag as Patriotic Symbol
Key's song "The Star-Spangled Banner" did more than give the American flag a name; it changed the way Americans looked at their flag. In the early 1800s, Americans, like people in other countries, considered a national flag simply a military or naval emblem. By the 1860s, the song "The Star-Spangled Banner" had become so popular and so closely associated with the stirring events of the Civil War that it elevated the flag to a special place in the hearts of Americans. Today the flag is the primary symbol of American patriotism.

Flag Design
The design of the U.S. flag was derived from designs used for flags at the beginning of the American Revolution. On June 14, 1777, Congress declared the flag to be 13 alternating red and white stripes with a union of 13 white stars in a blue field. In 1794, after Kentucky and Vermont joined the Union, Congress added two stars and two stripes. In 1818, when five more states had joined, Congress again changed the design to 13 stripes, representing the original 13 states, and 20 stars, with a provision that an additional star be added on the admission of each new state.

Although popular tradition has invested the colors of the flag with symbolism--red for valor, white for liberty or purity, and blue for justice, loyalty, and perseverance--there is no document that historians can point to that gives this symbolism official standing.

The design and colors have been the basis for a number of other flags including Chile, Liberia, Malaysia, and Puerto Rico