20 Surprising Facts About the Stars and Stripes for Flag Day from 20 Surprising Facts About the Stars and Stripes for Flag Day
20 Surprising Facts About the Stars and Stripes for Flag Day
The American flag, also known as the Stars and Stripes and the Star-Spangled Banner, has gone through many iterations, as a star is added every time a state is added to the country. The 50th star was added in 1960 after Hawaii was added to the union. Until 1818, a new stripe was also added whenever a state joined.
There are numerous rules and rituals involving the nation’s flag. Much of these are outlined in the U.S. Flag Code, which is technically a federal law but is not enforced. For example, the flag needs to be illuminated when flown at night, and it should always be on the right if displayed with other flags.
The flag got the nickname “Old Glory” from a sea captain in 1824, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Captain William Driver received a flag from his mother and named it “Old Glory” before bringing it with him on his voyages. Driver settled in Tennessee, and hid the flag when the state seceded from the Union in 1861 by sewing it inside of a comforter.
Betsy Ross flag
The flag known as the “Betsy Ross flag,” featuring 13 stars for the original 13 colonies, appeared in the early 1790s, according to the National Park Service. Betsy Ross did make flags for the Pennsylvania State Navy, but whether or not she produced the flag named for her is disputed.
The flag had two stars and two stripes added in 1794 after Kentucky and Vermont joined the union. This flag was used until 1818, when a law was passed establishing a new flag and setting the precedent that while a star would be added for each new state, the number of stripes would remain at 13.
The flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the national anthem flew over Fort McHenry in Baltimore in 1814. The fort was being bombarded by the British while Key wrote the poem that would eventually be put to music. The song was adopted as the national anthem in 1931, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The famous photo of U.S. troops raising the flag in Iwo Jima was actually taken twice because the battalion commander thought the first flag was too small. In 2016, the Marine Corps determined that one of the service members in the photo was not Navy Corpsman John Bradley, who appears in the less famous first photo. It was Marine Private First Class Harold Schultz.
The flag should be flown at half-mast for 30 days from the death of a president or former president and 10 days after the death of a vice president. It is also flown at half-staff on Memorial Day and after the death of important figures, as determined by the president or a governor. When the flag is flown at half-mast, it should be raised all the way up and then lowered into position.
Places where the flag always flies
The law specifies eight places where the flag should be flown at all times: Fort McHenry National Monument; The Marine Corps Iwo Jima Memorial; Lexington, Massachusetts; the White House; the Washington Monument; U.S. Customs ports of entry, and Valley Forge State Park.