Have you ever thought that the national flag of a country is primarily an object of graphic design and as an object of communication, and every design object is, first of all, communication; the flag unites, mobilizes, evokes positive emotions or disgust, delight, or rage, depending on the situation
In the article, we will talk about the prerequisites for the appearance of the US flag, the myths associated with it, and what the main symbol of America went through.
Numerous cultural chanting and photographs of the hoisting of the banner on the moon in 1969 helped the US flag to be imprinted in the memory of not only Americans. But how did he appear? Let’s find out.
What Does the American Flag Look Like?
This is a square with alternating stripes of white and red of the same width. The upper left corner is decorated with a blue rectangle (canton) with many white stars. The Americans are not at all superstitious people because there are thirteen stripes on the flag.
The number of stars is fifty. I had to work hard to beautifully and evenly place them in a small area. For this, mathematical calculations were used, and the diameter of the stars and their distance from each other were carefully measured.
This version of the standard has been used in America for a little over 60 years; the modern flag of America was adopted on July 4, 1960.
Symbolism of the Flag of the States
All elements of the flag of the Americans, the most beautiful and brightest in the world, have their own rationale:
- 50 stars – 50 states;
- the snow-white color of the flag of America means the purity and innocence of the thoughts of the people;
- blue color – diligence, justice, and the ability to be always on guard;
- red is endurance.
The “devil’s dozen” bands are the number of former British colonies that later formed the independent state of the United States.
How Many Stars Are on the Us Flag
The US flag consists of 50 stars and 13 stripes and can claim the title of the most fickle – it has already been changed 26 times as new states were periodically formed and joined. However, the standard of 1960 set a record for its stability: until this year, the flag had not been changed for 47 years, when it had 48 stars.
From the History
History of the American Flag In 1776, the American colonists decided it was time for them to separate from Great Britain. The reasons were many, and the result was the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America, which proclaimed the creation of a new nation and country. America won the War of Independence in 1783.
One of the first flags of independent colonists had 13 red and white stripes, and on the blue field in the upper left corner, there was a red cross of St. George and a white one – St. Andrew. However, after the start of the revolution, this flag, with its obvious link to England (the crosses of England and Scotland), began to cause conflicting emotions, and it was decided to create a new flag.
It must be said that the colonists had many different versions of the flags. For example, a very popular flag was this: a rattlesnake coiled into a ring on a yellow background with the inscription “Don’t step on me!”. But the design that Congress settled on, and given to dressmaker Betsy Ross in May 1776 by George Washington, Robert Morris, and George Ross, had 13 red and white stripes and a blue field to the left. It differs from the previous (pro-British) one by the fact that 13 white stars were located on a blue field in the form of a circle – a new constellation of the independent states of America.
Who made the design project is unknown. According to some reports, it was a member of Congress, Francis Hopkinson; at any rate, in 1780, he wrote a letter to the Admiralty stating that he was the author of the design. Initially, the stars were supposed to be made with six-pointed stars, but craftswoman Betsy Ross showed her customers that it is much easier to cut five-pointed stars – this can be done with one movement of scissors. Impressive congressmen agreed to this change, and at the end of May 1776, the new flag was ready; on June 14, 1777, by decision of the US Congress, it was adopted as the official flag of the new country.
In 1795, after two new states (Vermont and Kentucky) entered the Union, the flag acquired two more stripes and stars. It was this 15-striped flag that flew over Fort McHenry in 1814 during the war with Great Britain that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the famous poem “The Stars and Stripes Banner,” which later (in 1931) became the US anthem.
After the annexation of the states of Tennessee, Ohio, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Indiana in 1918, Congress returned the original 13 stripes to the flag (to commemorate the 13 original colonies) and added new stars. From that moment on, each new addition of a state to the Union was marked by a new star on the flag, which was added on July 4, the year that the state entered the Union.
The Modern Flag and Its “Code”
Robert Heft created the design of the last flag with 50 stars in 1958. A 17-year-old high school student in a small town in Ohio was given homework to design a flag. He came up with it, having received 4 with a minus as a result. Robert disagreed with the teacher’s assessment, to which he said that if Robert managed to get Congressional approval for his flag, then the assessment would be changed. The rest, as we say in America, is history.
A so-called “Flag Code” defines the rules for handling US flags. Some of these rules are quite interesting. For example, a flag hung upside down is the equivalent of an SOS signal – urgently need help, call the police! There is a certain tradition of destroying old decrepit flags (usually by burning). The code also says that any flag image is, in fact, the flag itself; in addition, the flag is forbidden to be worn as clothing.
It follows that the people of America who gleefully buy and wear T-shirts, ties and underwear with pictures of the American flag to commemorate Independence Day are violating the Code. Moreover, if you follow the Code, then old T-shirts and shorts should be burned with all due respect. It’s good that the Code is not a law but an action guide, and violators are not punished.
Like the United States, Malaysia and Liberia use a striped background of the same color for their state flags, but with different images in an inset in the panel’s upper left corner.
Thirteen alternating colored stripes on the flag of Malaysia mean the number of equal states that make up the federation. On the dark blue canton, the yellow crescent symbolizes the main religion of the Malaysians – Islam, and the yellow star with 14 rays denotes the unity of the administrative-territorial units and the government of the federation. Yellow is chosen as the symbol of rulers.
The number of stripes on the flag of Liberia is also no coincidence: that is how many signatures were placed under the Liberian declaration of independence, adopted in 1847. Liberia ceased to be an American colony and became an independent state. The dark blue square symbolizes the African continent, and the snow-white star in the center symbolizes the freedom of former slaves.
Contrary to popular belief, Flag Day in America is celebrated not on July 4 (Independence Day) but a little earlier – on June 14. On the same day that the first design of the flag was approved. The celebration has been celebrated for more than 100 years, since 1885.
The idea came to the mind of a simple teacher Bernard J. Sigrand, who works in one of the schools of Fredonia. It is unlikely that the young man imagined that he would initiate a holiday that his descendants would happily celebrate for several centuries. He just wanted to instill in his students a love for the flag and held a solemn ceremony.
However, after 4 years, his colleague from New York, George Balch, did the same in his city. The local authorities liked the holiday, and in 1892 the Society of the Sons of the Revolution of New York celebrated on a larger scale.
Two years later, the governor of New York signed a decree that, on June 14, all public buildings in the city should be decorated with flags. Since 1949, on June 14, the Flag’s Birthday has been celebrated as a national celebration; festivities are held throughout the country.
Locals love this holiday even though it is not declared a public holiday anywhere except in Pennsylvania. Americans decorate their homes with flags, take to the streets, organize processions, prepare national dishes, and hold solemn ceremonies in schools and universities. For Americans, June 14 is another reason to emphasize their patriotism and confess their love for the main symbol of the United States.
US Flag Code
The citizens of the United States love and respect their Stars and Stripes national symbol. This attitude is instilled from childhood: children take an oath of allegiance to the flag every morning in kindergartens and schools. Although the Supreme Court ruled more than 70 years ago that students should not be forced to take an oath, this ritual is still performed in some states with slight changes in the text.
The American Flag Code tells the rules for handling the state symbol:
- if an American is very strongly against something, then he has the legal right to burn the flag in protest – this is what is written in the Constitution;
- the flag cannot be worn horizontally with a shaft so that it touches the ground – after all, soiling the canvas is officially prohibited;
- if the flag touches the ground, it must be destroyed immediately;
- it is forbidden to hang the banner so that it touches the floor in the room, furniture, or the surface of the water;
- you cannot leave inscriptions and drawings on the canvas;
- the flag must be illuminated at night;
- symbols and photos of the American flag may not be used to advertise products printed on bags, packaging materials, disposable tableware, or napkins.
- The flag received unofficial nicknames – “old glory” and “star banner.” The US government has already prepared a design for a new star canton if there are 51 states in the federation.
- It is not allowed to turn the flag upside down, but there are no penalties in this regard at the legislative level. The upside-down standard serves as a distress signal for sailors and can also be used by soldiers if they decide to surrender.
When the Flag Is Hung
As a rule, the American flag is flown during celebrations. And it hangs around the clock – from dawn to dusk.
Mandatory days when the US flag must be flown:
- 31.12–01.01 – on the New Year;
- the third Monday in January, which is dedicated to Martin Luther King;
- January 20 with a frequency of once every four years – Inauguration Day of the President of America;
- February 12, when Abraham Lincoln (16th President of the United States) was born;
- the third Monday in February, dedicated to the presidents of the country;
- third Saturday in May – US Army Day;
- the last Monday of May is the Day of Sorrow and Memory of the Dead Soldiers;
- June 14 – Day of the flag itself;
- July 4 – US Independence Day (on this day, in addition to hanging the flag, there are also festive fireworks);
- September 17 – Constitution Day;
- the first Monday in October, dedicated to Christopher Columbus, who discovered America;
- October 27 – US Navy Day ;
- fourth Thursday of November – Thanksgiving Day, etc.
The US flag, as a rule, hangs for a day, and then, at the end of the holiday, it is lowered. But there are a few places where the banner flies forever:
- over Fort McHenry in Baltimore (it is there that a copy of the very “Star-Spangled Banner” hangs, which became the prototype of the US Anthem);
- over the White House, which is the current residence of the President of America;
- above the Capitol of Congress;
- in Arlington, above the US Marine Corps Memorial;
- at border and customs control points;
- as many as fifty flags were hung in the capital of the USA – Washington, over the Monument of the first president of America – George Washington;
- at the South Pole of the Earth;
- on the surface of the moon.