The American flag—colloquially known by many names, including the Red, White, and Blue, the Stars and Stripes, Old Glory, and the Star-Spangled Banner—is a prominent symbol of our nation. It stands for freedom, pride, valor, and justice.
Most people know what the American flag is and what it stands for. But its storied past and innumerable intricacies are a mystery to many. Here are some fun facts about the American flag to make you see it in a new light.
Betsy Ross (Probably) Didn’t Sew It
Forget what you were told in school. Turns out, Betsy Ross might not have sewn the original American flag after all. There are no records directly stating the origin of the original flag, and unless we unearth some, the true creator may remain a mystery forever.
However, there are several potential candidates for the Stars and Stripes’ designer. These include Betsy Ross and Rebecca Young, a flag maker during the American Revolution, as well as Francis Hopkinson, who was a member of the Continental Congress. This also includes any of the 20 or so different flag makers and upholsterers who lived in Philadelphia at the time.
Flags on the Moon
Another fun fact about the American flag is that it’s been on the moon not once, not twice, not thrice, but six times in total.
Between the 1960s and 1970s, there were six Apollo missions (11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17) that successfully landed on the moon and whose brave astronauts placed a flag among the moon’s many craters.
Common Display Myths
The history of the American flag isn’t the only thing people have misconceptions about. There are also numerous misconceptions about how you should display and dispose of the American flag.
No, you don’t have to dispose of your flag if it touches the ground (just wash it before you display it again), and you won’t get arrested if you display your flag after sunset as long as you make sure to illuminate it with some cool outdoor lights.
Burning the American flag isn’t a crime, either. In fact, if you need to dispose of your old, tattered, or dirty flag, you’re supposed to burn it! This manner of disposal is considered dignified.
The Longest-Running Design
The current design, which has been in use for over 50 years, is the longest-running iteration of the American flag. Most previous flag designs only lasted a year or two before needing to be replaced.
Why? Because between 1789 and 1959, we were constantly adding new states, and new states mean more stars.
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