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The American Flag: Shame and Glory

Updated on February 28, 2018
Scott Gese profile image

Born East of the Dakota's, raised in the American West. I'm a writer of books, blog posts, magazine articles and short stories.

What is it about this flag?

The Flag of the United States of America is not only the most endearing and revered symbol of our country, it’s also one of the most recognizable symbols in the world.

No other country treats their flag in the same manor as the United states. So what is it about the American flag that makes it so recognizable?

Field of American Flags
Field of American Flags | Source
American Flags Flying High
American Flags Flying High | Source

A Few Attributes of the American Flag

  • An official name – The “Flag of the United States of America”
  • A day of national observance – Flag Day, June 14 was enacted by President Truman in 1949.
  • A national pledge – The Pledge of Allegiance.
  • A national anthem – The Star Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key
  • A national song – The Stars and Stripes Forever by John Philip Souza
  • A federal law – The U.S. Flag Code
  • National Organizations that promote the proper use of and respect for the flag – The Veterans of Foreign Wars, The American Legion, National Flag Foundation and the Citizens Flag Alliance.

Official Colors of the American Flag

Official American Flag Colors
Official American Flag Colors

The exact colors for the American Flag were standardized in 1934

  • The official colors are:
  • Official American Flag Colors
  • Old Glory Red
  • White
  • Old Glory Blue
  • The 8-bit hex numbers are:
  • Old Glory Red – B22234
  • White – FFFFF
  • Old Glory Blue – 3C3B6E

What Do These Colors Represent?

There's a lot of symbolism behind the makeup of this flag

  • The red stripes represent valor and bravery
  • The white stripes represent purity and innocence.
  • The blue canton, (or Union), represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.
  • The 50 white stars within the canton (field) represent the number of states. One for each.
  • The American flag consists of 13 alternating red and white stripes. They represent the original colonies.

About The Star Pattern

The star pattern has changed throughout the flags history as states have been added to the Union.

This current pattern was designed by Robert G. Heft. He was a 17 year old high school student at the time. The design was a class project. His was one of over 1500 designs spontaneously submitted at the time Alaska and Hawaii were being considered for statehood. It was last updated in 1959 when Hawaii joined the U.S. and it came into official use in 1960.

This was during President Eisenhower’s administration.

At least three and possibly more identical designs were submitted.

In September 1958 the Acting Secretary of the Army had already sent designs for the 49-star and 50-star flags to the Secretary of Defense that included the designs that would be ultimately selected by the president. Wikipedia

Not sure why Heft was given the credit other than it makes for a good story.


The Star Spangled Banner
The Star Spangled Banner

Between 1795 and 1818, the flag had 15 stripes. Why?

In 1794 it was decided one new star and one new stripe should be added to the flag for each new state admitted to the union.

When Vermont and Kentucky were added the flag grew to 15 stars and 15 stripes. This flag became known as the Star Spangled Banner.

The third flag act of 1818 revised the second flag act and reverted the flag back to 13 stripes. No other stripes would be added. One star would continue to be added in honor of each new state admitted to the Union.

American Flag Trivia

Do you own an American Flag?

See results

85% of Americans consider themselves very patriotic, but only 64% own an American flag.

Do you have to destroy the flag if it touches the ground?

No, you don’t have to destroy your flag if it touches the ground. If it’s dirty, it’s perfectly acceptable to wash it.

Is it illegal to burn the American flag?

No it is not against the law to burn an American flag, although it should only be done in a dignified ceremonial manner when a flag has outlived it’s intended purpose. This is usually carried out by an organization like the American Legion.

Ceremonial Burning of the American Flag
Ceremonial Burning of the American Flag | Source

According to the United States Flag Code, (Title 4 Chapter 1) The American flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

Sign of Dire Distress
Sign of Dire Distress | Source

There are six American flags on the moon. These were left behind by each of the six manned lunar space landings of the United States.

American Flag on the Moon
American Flag on the Moon | Source

Flag flying holidays

According to the United States Flag Code, the American flag should be flown from sunrise to sunset every day, but especially the national holidays listed below.

  • January 1 — New Year's Day
  • January 16 — Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday
  • February 12 — Lincoln’s Birthday
  • February 20 — Washington’s Birthday and Presidents' Day
  • April 16 — Easter Sunday
  • May 14 — Mothers' Day
  • May 15 — Peace Officer's Memorial Day*
  • May 20 — Armed Forces Day
  • May 29 — Memorial Day*
  • June 14 — Flag Day
  • June 18 — Fathers' Day
  • July 4 — Independence Day
  • July 27 — Korean War Veterans' Day
  • September 4 — Labor Day
  • September 11 — Patriot Day*
  • September 17 — Constitution Day
  • September 24 — Gold Star Mothers' Day
  • October 8 — Firefighters' Memorial Day*
  • October 9 — Columbus Day
  • October 27 — Navy Day
  • November 11 — Veterans Day
  • November 23 — Thanksgiving Day
  • December 7 — Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day*
  • December 25 — Christmas Day
  • State birthdays and holidays
  • All election days
  • Any additional days as proclaimed by the President of the United States or the Governor of a State.

* — denotes half staff observations.

Is your flag American made?

Americana
Americana | Source

Many Americans proudly show their patriotism by displaying American flags outside their homes.

Your flag might LOOK American, but it may not be what it seems.

The flag you display on your front porch may have been made outside of the USA.

10% of the American flags sold in this country are Manufactured outside of the US.

94% of these imported American flags come from China.

This accounts for almost $4 million dollars in sales.

American Flags Made in China
American Flags Made in China

According to FMAA records, Between the years 1999 and 2014, the most recent year on record, American flags imported from China rose from 1.1 Million to $4 million.

During these years we went through the 9-1-1 terrorist attack and two wars. Our patriotism was at an all time high and so were the sales of American flags. That being the case, I would assume that any American buying a flag during these years would have wanted a flag that was made in America, not China.

I’m guessing they didn’t know where their flag was made.

What’s wrong with this picture. Why are American citizens buying American flags made in China and why are foreign countries being allowed to import American flags and other symbolic items?

Many American patriots would be unhappy to find out their flag was not a genuine made in the USA American flag.

This is a symbol of our country. Displaying a flag made in a China sweatshop as opposed to one made in an American factory located in the United States, doesn’t fly.

Why isn’t there a law against this?

Current Federal law states any American flag larger than 12 x 18 inches must be labeled with the country of origin. Does this always happen? Like most things, there are probably ways around it.

If we didn’t import American flags from other countries, this wouldn’t even be an issue.

What about all those smaller flags?

Field of American Flags
Field of American Flags

The ones smaller than 12 x 18 inches

If the flag is on a wood or plastic stick, check the stick to see if it’s stamped or embossed with the country of origin. Sometimes they are. Other than checking the stick or possibly the flag itself, you’re at the mercy of the retailer or wholesaler you bought it from.

Legislation for stricter guidelines has been introduced and passed by several individual states, but the wheels of the U.S. Federal Government turn slowly and as of now, there are no Federal requirements regarding American flags sold to the general public.

American flags purchased by the Federal Government must be made of at least 50% American materials. The exception to this law is the U.S. Department of Defense, which is required to purchase only flags made in the United States.

American blood has been shed and American lives have been given defending our flag and all it stands for. It only seems fitting that NO American flags be imported and ALL American flags be made in America.

Wall of Shame

Disrespecting the American Flag

The flag of the United States of America is a symbol of patriotism. Citizens of this country have fought and died for the flag and what it stands for. It should not be disrespected.

American Flag in Tatters
American Flag in Tatters
Tattered American Flag
Tattered American Flag
Disrespecting the American Flag
Disrespecting the American Flag
Disrespecting the American Flag
Disrespecting the American Flag
Disrespecting the American Flag
Disrespecting the American Flag
Flag 'Storage' at a Veterans Cemetery in Rhode Island.
Flag 'Storage' at a Veterans Cemetery in Rhode Island.

Final Thoughts

I love living in America. Always will.

I was born in the Midwest in the mid fifties. I'm the middle child of a middle class family. I've recently retired from a middle class job with a middle class income.

I'm not one of this countries elites and I'm not one of this countries disgruntled citizens. I believe this country is capable of great things and I believe our flag should always be a symbol of those great things. It's a symbol to be rallied around, not one to be burned or stomped on.

One of the greatest things about this country is that if you don't like the direction of the winds, you can freely work to adjust the sails.

This is my country and this is my American flag.


Please leave a comment

© 2018 Scott Gese

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    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 7 weeks ago

      You're welcome,

    • Scott Gese profile image
      Author

      Scott Gese 7 weeks ago from Brownsville, Oregon

      Robert

      Thank you for your comment.

      It is a sad fact that many of the citizens of this country have a blatant disregard for our Stars and Stripes.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 7 weeks ago

      This article is very informative, Your wall of shame capsule is a good, albeit sad, addition to this Hub. Thank you for posting,

    • Scott Gese profile image
      Author

      Scott Gese 7 weeks ago from Brownsville, Oregon

      Jessie

      That's the thing about the freedom we have in this country. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. We may not agree with it, but it's part of the deal. I wonder if they really understand what they have.

      There are better ways to go about creating change if one feels that's what needs to be done. Taking it out on our flag doesn't do much more than piss people off. It's not very constructive. I just try to ignore them as best I can.

    • Scott Gese profile image
      Author

      Scott Gese 7 weeks ago from Brownsville, Oregon

      Peggy

      Thanks for the comment.

      So glad to hear you not only own a flag, but you fly it too. Some don't bother.

    • Jessie L Watson profile image

      Jessie Watson 7 weeks ago from Wenatchee Washington

      I don't even know what to say anymore to those who harbor such a disgust toward our national symbol. Treason. That's the first thing that comes to mind.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      We proudly fly our American flag every day. Prior to 9-11 I hate to admit that we were one of the numbers of people who did not even own a flag, but as soon as we could locate one we have been flying one ever since that day. Both of my grandfathers as well as my dad and both of my brothers served their country in the military. Nice job on writing this article about our flag.

    • Scott Gese profile image
      Author

      Scott Gese 7 weeks ago from Brownsville, Oregon

      Jack Shorebird

      Thank you for your comment

      I agree with you that things are changing in this country. It's not all for the good either. I personally would not stop someone from expressing their rights. It's not illegal to burn the flag. I don't agree with it, but if that's what they want to do, they do have the right.

      I do believe citizens of this country need a rallying point especially when so many people in power want to, and are diligently working at, whittling away our rights. The citizens of this country need to stand tall. This is our country. It's for the many, not the few.

      I could go on, but this isn't the place.

    • Scott Gese profile image
      Author

      Scott Gese 7 weeks ago from Brownsville, Oregon

      Louise Powles

      Thank you for your comment. I hope you make it here. There are so many interesting things to see and do.

    • Scott Gese profile image
      Author

      Scott Gese 7 weeks ago from Brownsville, Oregon

      Readmikenow

      Thank you for your reply. I agree with you that many Americans don't understand or realize what they have. I'm glad you found the freedom this country offers.

      At the same time, we must be diligent. There are those who would like to take that freedom away from us. We can't let that happen.

    • Readmikenow profile image

      Readmikenow 7 weeks ago

      I think you did a very good job on the article. I enjoyed it. I am a flag waving American. My family came from the Ukraine. There my family was almost completely wiped out because of the Holodomor genocide done by the Russians. Most Americans don't know what it is like to live under a Soviet controlled society. Most Americans take for granted their freedoms and don't know what they have. Since arriving in 1902 we've started businesses and served in the military. We have plenty of people who have received purple hearts, bronze and silver stars as well as died and lost limbs in combat for the United States. The Ukraine is much better now since gaining its independence in 1991. It hurts me when I see people disrespect the flag. They don't know a life other than one of freedom and so they don't value it. The American flag was a symbol of freedom for my grandfather and family coming here to escape oppression of the worst kind. They all instantly fell in love with this country and its freedom. The flag is a symbol of so much more than just the country and military. It means so much more. I believe the people who disrespect it are nothing less than ignorant.

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 7 weeks ago from Norfolk, England

      This is an interesting history of the American flag. I'd love to visit USA for a holiday, it's a lovely country.

    • jgshorebird profile image

      Jack Shorebird 7 weeks ago from Southeastern U.S.

      This is a touchy subject for me. I'm patriotic for the cause of freedom, not a symbol. As the country edges away from the ideas of its founders -- who were not perfect I realize -- the flag can become another kind of symbol altogether. In that case, one has the right -- the absolute choice -- to burn it in public. To rebel. And I served my cause -- not my country -- not a symbol. I wore the uniform in the USAF and as a civilian, the uniforms of cops. The purpose of our flag, I submit, is choice. The founders never wanted oath takers. They wanted guts. Guts to challenge the tide of despotism, to fertilize that tree. America is not its flag or its land or even its people. America is, it will always be: an idea. Anyone can use that idea -- anywhere.

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