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Why is the American Flag Red, White, and Blue?

Updated on February 17, 2017
SusanDeppner profile image

Susan enjoys answering questions and helping her readers solve problems while learning more about education, business, and other fun topics.

A child shows respect by saluting the red, white, and blue American flag.
A child shows respect by saluting the red, white, and blue American flag. | Source

What is the Meaning of the Red, White, and Blue in the American Flag?

Why is the flag of the United States red, white, and blue? Wondering about the significance of those colors?

Traditionally, it is said that George Washington believed the stars were taken from the sky, the red from the British colors, and the white stripes signified the secession from the home country.

It turns out that no official reason for the choice of the colors was recorded by the Continental Congress. It is true, though, that in 1782 the Congress of the Confederation chose red, white, and blue for the Great Seal of the United States and listed their meaning as white for purity and innocence, red for valor and hardiness, and blue for vigilance, perseverance, and justice.

No matter what the original meaning of the colors, our "grand old flag," continues to represent patriotism and pride in the United States, land that we love, home of the free and the brave.

Read on to learn more about Old Glory, the red, white, and blue, our American flag.

A Field of Red, White, and Blue American Flags for Heroes

Source

When Should You Fly the American Flag?

Any day, but especially:

President's Day (3rd Monday in February)

Armed Forces Day (3rd Saturday in May)

Memorial Day (last Monday in May)

Flag Day (June 14)

Independence Day (4th of July)

Labor Day (1st Monday in September)

Patriot's Day (September 11)

Columbus Day (2nd Monday in October)

Veterans Day (November 11)

The stars and stripes of the American flag are very recognizable.
The stars and stripes of the American flag are very recognizable.

POLL: Do You Display the American Flag at Your House? If you're not from the USA, do you fly your country's flag?

Please participate in our patriotic poll.

Do you fly or otherwise display your country's flag at your house?

See results

"The Flag Still Stands for Freedom and They Can't Take That Away!"

Are you proud to be an American? Do you get goosebumps when you hear this song? I certainly do. Enjoy this video version with gorgeous pictures featuring the flag's red and white stripes and blue field of stars, including photos of the brave troops who defend her every day.

What Are the Rules for Saluting the American Flag?

Every American should show respect for the flag by standing at attention and placing their hand over their heart during the playing of the National Anthem or as a flag passes in a parade or procession. Men should also remove their hats.

Individuals in uniform plus service members, retirees, or veterans out of uniform are allowed by law to render a hand salute to the flag. This is a recent law, part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008. Read about it at this link.

An American Flag for Every American Home

Have you been putting off buying a flag? Displaying your patriotism is more important than ever these days! Every American family should own and fly a flag, at least on patriotic holidays. The flag linked below is an excellent choice. You'll find more sizes and options on the product page.

Need a Flag to Display?

U.S. American Flag 3'x5' + FREE Affiche. Made in USA. Bundled Product. Embroidered Stars Sewn Stripes. Sturdy Brass Grommets. Premium Nylon. 30% of Proceeds Donated to Families of Fallen Officers.
U.S. American Flag 3'x5' + FREE Affiche. Made in USA. Bundled Product. Embroidered Stars Sewn Stripes. Sturdy Brass Grommets. Premium Nylon. 30% of Proceeds Donated to Families of Fallen Officers.

This one would be an excellent choice. An American flag, made in the U.S.A. Note that this company not only makes quality flags (check their feedback), they also donate 30 percent back to Families of Fallen Officers. Available in several sizes.

 

What Are Some Nicknames for the American Flag?

* Old Glory

* The Stars and Stripes

* The Star-Spangled Banner

* The Red, White & Blue

Teach Your Children the Story of the American Flag

How much do you and your children know about the American flag, not just the colors but more about why this emblem is so important to us as citizens of the greatest country in the world?

Every child should be taught about the flag, the history and how the flag came to be. Here's a beautiful book for your collection, one to read then re-read on patriotic occasions to reinforce what the flag means as a true symbol of American patriotism and pride.

Stars and Stripes: The Story of the American Flag
Stars and Stripes: The Story of the American Flag

Especially for 1st through 3rd grade, but perfect for all ages. Beautiful large, bright illustrations help tell the story.

 

© 2009 Susan Deppner

Do You Fly the Flag? Give Us a Wave in a Comment Below

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    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 10 months ago from Arkansas USA

      Peg, I absolutely love and appreciate your comment. I'm saddened by the disrespect that seems to be highlighted in the news these days. I totally believe that you and I are in the majority when it comes to appreciating all that the flag stands for, though many need an occasional reminder. What a shame that it's the other, small minority that gets so much attention. Thank you for speaking from your heart.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 10 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      In these days of athletes failing to show respect for our flag it's good to see this sort of article that explains the history and significance of this symbol of our nation. Thank you for sharing these important concepts. "Every American should show respect for the flag by standing at attention and placing their hand over their heart during the playing of the National Anthem or as a flag passes in a parade or procession." As the daughter of a US Naval officer, I grew up with a healthy respect for the flag along with a daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in school.

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 2 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Thanks, Lorelei. I'm glad you learned something new! Bet you know all about the Canadian flag!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 2 years ago from Canada

      I did not know why those specific colors were chosen for the US flag but I sure do now. Thank you once again for teaching me something new.

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 3 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @norma-holt: It's wonderful that you know the meaning of your flag. The Australian flag is pretty easy to spot with those features and it's beautiful, too. Thanks so much for commenting!

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 3 years ago

      Interesting topic and nicely presented. I am Australian so we don't fly the American flag here unless there is a reason, such as a US Presidential visit. The Australian flag is also red white and blue with the large expanse of blue representing the sky and the white stars depicting the Southern Cross. In the top left hand corner is the British flag because we are part of the Commonwealth. Well done.

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 3 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @LadyDuck: Thanks!

    • profile image

      LadyDuck 3 years ago

      I liked this article about American flag. It is very interesting.

    • CaztyBon profile image

      CaztyBon 3 years ago

      I really enjoyed reading about the US Flag I find it fascinating that there is no original reason that those three colors were picked. Thank You for teaching me more about The US Flag.

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 3 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @LoriBeninger: I know that feeling and remember it well, in fact!

    • LoriBeninger profile image

      LoriBeninger 3 years ago

      I remember reading a story about Betsy Ross when I was in grade school - and I wanted to be her (I sewed, so I figured it only made sense).

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @SBPI Inc: Thanks for the enthusiastic comment!

    • SBPI Inc profile image

      SBPI Inc 4 years ago

      @GregoryMoore: Amen to that and God Bless You and America. Together we do stand on that issue.

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @Faye Rutledge: I've reciprocated with your lens here as well. Hope you had a great 4th!

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 4 years ago from Concord VA

      Thanks for this great info about flags. Thanks for your visit and comment to my July 4th Party lens. (I'm adding this lens to it's related lenses) Enjoy your 4th!

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @Mr Criminology: Thanks for commenting, and have a happy Independence Day!

    • Mr Criminology profile image

      Bigwas 4 years ago from Philippines

      very well known flag in the world, especially us non Americans, its nice to know why the American flag is colored like that.

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @GregoryMoore: I'm right with you on those concerns. I'm thankful that my sons do understand and, I'm sure, will pass that on to their future children. Thanks so much for the visit and the thoughtful comment!

    • GregoryMoore profile image

      Gregory Moore 4 years ago from Louisville, KY

      Well done and informative. I've always felt a strong sense of patriotism, but am concerned that the next generations will never gain and understanding of what the flag stands for. The debates over the Pledge of Allegiance in the schools drives me up a wall.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Sometimes we chose something well by happy accident and the flag colors and stars have grown to have meaning over time officially, but I still wonder if the original unofficial reasons were pretty much the same, probably so but we'll never really know. Thanks for this little patriotic lesson and congratulations on your Falg Day feature!

    • siobhanryan profile image

      siobhanryan 4 years ago

      Never knew what the colors represented-Great lens

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @anonymous: I guess I share your bias, mdarwin!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Great lens...I have always found the flags that are red white and blue to be the most aesthetically pleasing. But, that's just my American opinion bias I suppose

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @norma-holt: I think you're right! Merry Christmas and happy New Year to you - and thanks!

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 4 years ago

      Great lens and I think the red, white and blue colors carry over from the British flag, just as they do elsewhere. Blessed and have a wonderful,, happy and peaceful holiday season and extra special 2013. Hugs

    • profile image

      jcamdenbow 5 years ago

      I used to fly the flag from my own flag pole in my front yard. But now I don't have the space (nor am allowed) to fly the flag. I can however put small flags in the ground to celebrate "special" days. Great information on our flag.

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @Linda Pogue: Thank you so much!

    • Linda Pogue profile image

      Linda Pogue 5 years ago from Missouri

      A lens every American in the United States should read. Blessings!

    • Dusty2 LM profile image

      Dusty2 LM 5 years ago

      Thank You for an informative lens. I enjoyed reading all of the interesting facts about "Old Glory"! Proud to be an American! Please; "Pay It Forward"!

    • profile image

      Shain73 5 years ago

      Nice

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @Thankfultw: Grand Old Flag indeed! Thank you!

    • Thankfultw profile image

      Thankfultw 5 years ago

      i am so glad to see you included a link to the proper disposal of the flag. It's a Grand Old Flag!

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @jseven lm: Thank you so much!

    • Bobbala profile image

      Bobbala 5 years ago

      Great lens. Thank you!

    • TaraWojt profile image

      Tara Wojtaszek 5 years ago

      Very informative. I always wondered what the colours meant.

    • profile image

      jseven lm 5 years ago

      Great information and love the flags! Blessed!

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @RuralFloridaLiving: We have a Marine vet in our family, too. Semper fi and thank you for the comment!

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @Nanciajohnson: That's awesome! Happy 4th to you, too!

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @cmadden: Thank you, and same to you!

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @Normyo Yonormyo: I'm sure you're very proud of your flag and what it stands for, too, especially since you can quote that history. Thank you for that great information!

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @FantasticVoyages: I wholeheartedly agree!

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @Gayle Dowell: Thank you, and happy Independence Day!

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 5 years ago from Kansas

      What a great lens for this 4th of July holiday. I need to get a flag to wave on special holidays!

    • FantasticVoyages profile image

      Fantastic Voyages 5 years ago from Texas

      I proudly fly the US flag all year. It's important to show our patriotism & love for our country.

    • Normyo Yonormyo profile image

      Normyo Yonormyo 5 years ago

      It is always difficult to know why a flag has its colors. The Dutch also have a red white and blue flag, although we call it the national three color. The red is a color change over the centuries from orange. The white and blue are the dress colors of the servants of the French medieval kingdom of Orange. The Orange, White, blue flag is called the Prince's flag as the Prince of Orange-Nassau was the leader of the Dutch revolt in the sixteenth century against the Spanish throne.

    • profile image

      cmadden 5 years ago

      Happy Independence Day!

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 5 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

      Besides flying the flag at home, we proudly display the American Flag 365 days a year around my work community also. Happy 4th of July! I appreciate this lens.

    • profile image

      RuralFloridaLiving 5 years ago

      Yes, we do. We fly the American Flag, the POW flag, and the Marine Corp flag proudly at the gate to our ranch in Florida. Thanks for a great lens.

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @chas65: Thank you, and same to you!

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @CNelson01: Thank you for flying the flag, too!

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @KittySmith: Our local Boy Scout troop will occasionally have a flag burning ceremony. I remember the first one our family attended (our sons were Scouts). Very educational and very touching. Thanks for sharing that!

    • KittySmith profile image

      KittySmith 5 years ago

      @chidchan: Me, too!

    • KittySmith profile image

      KittySmith 5 years ago

      At our American Legion Post 268, we just had a Flag Burning Ceremony which is for all American flags being retired from service with dignity. We do this in conjunction with Memorial Day. The Flag represents our citizens, our soldiers and the blood they shed for our safety and freedom, we treat it with great dignity.

      Thanks for this inspiring lens read on July 4, 2012.

      PS-I love the flag art you found.

    • CNelson01 profile image

      Chuck Nelson 5 years ago from California

      I fly it proudly...thank you for this lens.

    • PennyHowe profile image

      PennyHowe 5 years ago

      Flags are beautiful and I am patriotic, but I do not fly one. Thanks for the interesting lens. Happy July 4th!

    • chas65 profile image

      chas65 5 years ago

      What better day to read this than today, July the 4th. Have a Happy 4th.

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @ClassyGals: Thank you for the blessings, and happy 4th to you!

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @goldenrulecomics: Your children are blessed. Thank you!

    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 5 years ago

      We respect what the flag stands for enough that we made a point of bringing our children to Fort McHenry to learn about the Star-Spangled Banner and the Museum of American History in D.C. to see the flag that waved over the fort on that fateful night. Great lens!

    • ClassyGals profile image

      Cynthia Davis 5 years ago from Pittsburgh

      I do fly the American flag on holidays. Thanks for telling me about 9-11 being called Patriot's Day. I never knew. Happy 4th of July! Angel Blessings**

    • ifeelgod lm profile image

      ifeelgod lm 5 years ago

      Go USA

    • SusanDeppner profile image
      Author

      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @chidchan: Thanks for choosing my lens!

    • booknow profile image

      booknow 5 years ago

      Happy 4th of July! Btw. our flag is also red-white-and blue (the Netherlands)!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Yes, we display the flag on holidays. Great lens; wonderful job.

    • profile image

      MarcellaCarlton 5 years ago

      We do fly the flag. I'm very patriotic as is my husband. Nice Lens!

    • profile image

      chidchan 5 years ago

      Great info! I choose this lense as a 'red white and blue' quest. Have a nice day.

    • DLeighAlexander profile image

      DLeighAlexander 5 years ago

      Yes we proudly fly the US Flag at our house. We also have an American Flag that flew over a free Iraq, given to us by our son-in-law a US Marine. He brought it home after he had served in Iraq.

      It is a blessing to live in America and fly freely our symbol of freedom, the American Flag.

      Thanks and SquidAngel blessings to you for a great lens.

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 5 years ago

      I don't fly the flag, but I have one on the back of my truck, that has been there since just after 9/11. I have one in a case that flew over a base in Afghanistan, that was a gift from my son.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I have a small flag and need to get it out to display on these special days.

    • CNelson01 profile image

      Chuck Nelson 5 years ago from California

      I fly it on special occasions or events (such as 9/11)

    • Rural Farming profile image

      Rural Farming 5 years ago

      Happy flag day, nice lens!

    • Nightcat profile image

      Nightcat 5 years ago

      Lovely lens with tons of info, blessed! :)

    • profile image

      jazziyarbrough 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing useful information, as I never thought about why the American flag is red white and blue.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 5 years ago from Southampton, UK

      People don't tend to fly flags in the UK as much as they do in the USA, but I would really like to fly both at home.

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @lorimaye: Thank you both!

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @jtrag: Thanks so much for sharing!

    • profile image

      kmyangel 5 years ago

      Nice lens ! Thanks for sharing !

    • jtrag profile image

      James Trageser 5 years ago from Thomasville, PA

      I also chose your lens for the quest :) Nice Lens BTW! I Love It! I shared it with every social network on the left of the lens :)

    • Rumisglass profile image

      Rumisglass 5 years ago

      Good Lens!

    • profile image

      lorimaye 5 years ago

      @OliviaDaughter LM: I second that!

    • artbyrodriguez profile image

      Beverly Rodriguez 5 years ago from Albany New York

      I love to read about our flag.

    • OliviaDaughter LM profile image

      OliviaDaughter LM 5 years ago

      I choose your lens as the Quest. Have a great day

    • RetroMom profile image

      RetroMom 5 years ago

      I've always wondered about the colors. Very informative page, thank you for sharing.

    • pcgamehardware profile image

      pcgamehardware 5 years ago

      I didn't know that there was no record of why the flags colors are Red, White and Blue. Informative page, thanks for sharing.

    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 5 years ago from Keller, Texas

      It gives me great pride to fly our flag daily outside of our home. When I see our flag waving in the wind, it reminds me of all the people who have looked up to her for hope, faith in fellow man, strength, and courage. God Bless America!

    • KandDMarketing profile image

      KandDMarketing 5 years ago

      Great lens! I wish a few more folks would start thinking this way. Things mught just turn around a bit in this country!

    • bensen32 lm profile image

      bensen32 lm 5 years ago

      Great lens, I have two small (7"x12") flags that are at the end of the driveway year round and on nice weather 3x5 American, POW/MIA and the Marine Corps flags are up. On Memorial Day and 4th of July the whole yard gets filled with the small flags.

      You lens is featured on my Stars and Stripes lens.

      Thank you

    • norcalkitten78 lm profile image

      norcalkitten78 lm 5 years ago

      God Bless America. Thank you for this lens.

    • profile image

      glutenallergy 5 years ago

      I actually never thought about why our flag is red, white, and blue. Thanks for an informative lens :)

    • angelsigh profile image

      angelsigh 5 years ago

      This is a great feel good lens. I wish I could fly our great flag but apt regualtions says NO :(

    • BlueTrane profile image

      BlueTrane 5 years ago

      Proud to fly it! Thanks for the lens!

    • Coffeebreak9am profile image

      Coffeebreak9am 5 years ago

      I love our country and love that you did a lens on our flag. Thank you for all your hard work...keep up the good work!

    • Country-Sunshine profile image

      Country Sunshine 5 years ago from Texas

      I love our flag, and also the symbolism behind it. Great article!

    • AlisonMeacham profile image

      AlisonMeacham 5 years ago

      One of my children asked me this question and I knew that I would find the answer on Squidoo. Blessings to you Susan for saving me a lot of research with this excellent answer!

    • Brandi Bush profile image

      Brandi 5 years ago from Maryland

      @Brandi Bush: BTW, featured this in my new "Patriotic Lenses" lens. :)

    • Brandi Bush profile image

      Brandi 5 years ago from Maryland

      Awesome...love our American flag. :)

    • CCGAL profile image

      CCGAL 6 years ago

      What can I say? I love our flag and what it stands for, and I really like this lens a lot.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 6 years ago

      This is my way to say that I love and respect our flag, Blessing from a Squid Angel!