The National Flag: A Patriotic Symbol

american-flag-795305_1280Brief History of the Flag

The American flag has long been a symbol of the values held by our Founding Fathers: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Betsy Ross, a widowed seamstress living in Philadelphia, created the first flag for all of the colonies in May 1776 at the urging of General George Washington and several other members of the Continental Congress.

The flag was hand sewn just two months before the colonies declared independence from Great Britain and the crown. Prior to that time, various colonies and militias had used their own flags, ranging in design from the Rattlesnake Flag with its infamous “don’t tread on me” to those which incorporated the Union Jack, indicating loyalty to the crown.

On June 14, 1777, in an effort to promote national pride and to unify the 13 separate colonies as one United States of America, the Continental Congress adopted the national flag. It had 13 stripes, alternating red and white, to represent the 13 colonies, and 13 white stars in front of a blue background. Since then, there have been 27 iterations of the new flag. Each version was created on the July 4th following a new state’s or states’ admission to the union. 

Symbolism in the American Flag

These days, Americans do not think twice about red, white, and blue as the colors of our nation, but these colors were selected based on their meaning. White signifies purity and innocence; red signifies valor and bravery; and blue means perseverance and justice. Similarly, the stars and the stripes hold their own significance. Stars are from the heavens, and the original 13 stars represented a new constellation – a clear metaphor for a new nation. Stripes are symbolic of rays from the sun. The combination of these pieces and colors yields a flag that symbolizes traditional American values to all who see it; hence, the commonly used nickname “The Stars and Stripes.”

American Flag Holidays

The celebration of the birthday of the United States of America, or, as it is more commonly known “Independence Day,” is traditionally celebrated on July 4th of each year. However, in 1885, a schoolteacher named BJ Cigrand from Wisconsin initiated the idea for a separate holiday to specifically celebrate the American flag.

From this one school in a small Midwestern town, the idea spread across the country, with President Woodrow Wilson officially establishing Flag Day by proclamation in 1916.

While many communities celebrated Flag Day, it was not until August 3, 1949 that President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th as the official day of celebration for Flag Day.

Properly Displaying the American Flag

There are a number of ways to properly display the American flag, depending on the circumstances. However, one universal rule regarding the American flag is that, if it appears on a flagpole, it must be raised to the peak at sunrise and lowered at sunset. There is also a proper way to fold the flag, which leaves it in the shape of a triangle. This is how the flag is presented to the family of fallen soldiers or veterans after a military funeral.

While many people choose to display their flags outdoors, there are indoor flags as well. Some opt to hang the flag, which should be suspended vertically; others prefer to display it on a flagpole. If the American flag is displayed currently with other domestic flags (of states, cities, localities, etc.), it should always be at the peak.

When the American flag is flown at half-staff, it must first be hoisted to the peak of the flagpole for a moment, and then immediately lowered to its half-staff position. The flag must be raised again to the peak before it is lowered altogether for the day.

Purchasing an American Flag

When buying an American flag, there are a number of considerations that should be taken into account. Modern-day American flags are easy to acquire and, thus, not particularly expensive. However, many of these flags are made overseas, including in China, which seems not only ironic, but also somewhat unpatriotic.

Every year, nearly $4 million dollars’ worth of American flags are imported to the United States. Prior to 9/11, the majority of American flags were made in the U.S., but demand soared following the terrorist attacks and the surge of patriotism that followed.

In 2014, Congress passed legislation, written by Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA), banning the Department of Defense from using any foreign-made flag to fly above a military installation, either on U.S. soil or abroad, as part of the omnibus appropriations bill.

Another bill calling for a ban on all foreign-made flags at all U.S. government agencies fell short, attributed to the higher cost and to trade agreements with China, the largest producer of American flags.

Those interested in purchasing a flag should ensure that the company making the flags manufactures them exclusively in the United States, as does AmericanFlags.com. This will usually be stated on the website. If you prefer to purchase the flag in person, look for a label that says “Made in the U.S.A.”

Service Flags of the United States

military-659893_640More Than Just a Flag

The freedom we enjoy as American citizens has not, nor has ever, been given freely. It was hard fought and hard won, requiring enormous sacrifice on the parts of military service members and their families. Today that freedom is still hard fought, and the sacrifices made just as enormous.

Making sure we honor current American service members and veterans is essential. Whether you donate your time or your money, or even only fly a new flag in support of their service, we can all do more to show how grateful we are to those extraordinary individuals who give everything of themselves to make this a better country for everyone else.

Take a moment to read below and understand some of the different service flags of the United States. Knowing what the different flags mean is a simple, yet important way to honor and respect those who serve.

The Service Flag or Banner

The service banner is an official display authorized by the Department of Defense that the family of service members may fly. Defined by a white field and thick red border, a large blue star is present for every family member who gave service during any period of war or hostilities. A gold star outlined in blue represents a relative who died while in service.

During World War II, it became commonplace to display the service flag. Almost every private residence, as well as many organizations and businesses, began to display these banners proudly to demonstrate how many family members were serving in the armed forces.

In 1942, the veteran’s service Blue Star Mothers of America was founded, quickly becoming an integral part of the movement to provide military service members serving overseas with care packages. Additionally, it became one of their core missions to provide aid to families undergoing hardship because of a son or daughter serving in the war.

The service flag is made for indoor use and should be displayed on the inside of a window in the front of the home facing outward.

Other Service Related Flags

POW/MIA

The POW/MIA Flag was created for those Missing in Action and Prisoners of War during the Vietnam War. The flag is black with a white circle in the middle. There is a black silhouette of a concerned man, a watch tower with a guard holding a rifle, and a strand of barbed wire. Above that, in white letters, are POW and MIA with a white star. Underneath the disk is a black and white wreath above the words YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN.

Military Flags

Each branch of the Armed Forces has their own distinct flag with a long and distinguished past. The flags represent many decades of honor, tradition, and service. It is important to recognize and understand the differences when paying respect.

  • Army – “This we’ll defend” a snake atop the flag declares. A white base with blue insignia, a red banner at the bottom circumscribes the words: “United States Army.”
  • Marine Corps – A red banner with a golden eagle and anchor atop the world. It proudly bears the words “Semper Fidelis” – always faithful – and “United States Marine Corps” at the bottom.
  • Navy – A blue banner with an eagle in the foreground and a proud ship in the back, this flag bears the words “United States Navy.”
  • Air Force – An eagle perched atop the Air Force crest, it is surrounded by a semi-circle halo of stars.
  • Coast Guard – A white banner with a blue eagle insignia, this flag proudly bears the words: “United States Coast Guard.”

Holidays and Special Observances

In addition to the specific service flags and Armed Forces branch flags mentioned above, there are some holidays in which the American flag itself may be used to honor the service of American military personnel. Take a look at some of these important days:

  • May 15th – Peace Officers Memorial Day: Fly the flag half-staff all day.
  • Last Monday in May – Memorial Day: Fly the flag half-staff until noon, then raise to full-staff until sundown.
  • September 11th – Patriot’s Day: Fly the flag half-staff all day.
  • November 11th – Veteran’s Day: Fly the flag at full-staff until sundown. 
  • December 7th – Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day: Fly the flag half-staff all day

Conclusion

Military service is the bedrock of  the United States of America’s freedom. Without the men and women who serve in uniform, the United States would quickly become a shadow of its true self. The rights and privileges we take for granted every day would become meaningless, and the future would be a bleak one. It is a shuddering vision, although it provides all the more reason to thank and honor service members, veterans, and their families for all that they give. Recognizing service flags, and understanding something of their past, is an important way to give thanks. Fly a flag and honor those who serve.

A Flag Etiquette Primer

usa-1149896_1280As a symbol of hope and unity, the American  flag is without peer, serving to remind all who behold it that, so long as it flies, freedom will triumph.

Flown proudly outside of schools, churches, and government buildings alike, American flags are a solemn gesture of solidarity and patriotism for the greatest country on earth.

Our history is a remarkable one, and its struggle is evidenced in the very fabric of the flag: red for the blood spilt in the name of liberty, white for purity and equality, and blue for justice. Because of this, it is our duty to honor our flags properly as the embodiment of all that makes this country great.

Paying Respect

The Flag Code is the formal body of instruction we must follow in order to properly honor the flag. It contains specific instructions regarding how the flag ought to be used and not used. Take a look at some of its most important standards of respect:

  • The flag may never be bowed down to anyone or anything.
  • The flag should only be flown upside-down as a signal of distress or emergency.
  • The flag must never be worn nor draped over any surface for use as decoration. (Bunting should be used for this.)
  • The flag should not be used for advertising purposes. Similarly, it should not be printed on any disposable articles, such as napkins or paper plates.
  • The flag should not be worn as costume; however, a flag patch is acceptable on the uniforms of military personnel, as well as policeman and other similar groups.
  • Whenever the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground.
  • When stored, it should be folded crisply and with dignity.

Contrary to some beliefs, the burning of the flag is, in fact, appropriate when the flag is too worn, so long as the burning is done in a dignified and ceremonious manner. Many American Legion Posts, as well as Boy Scout Troops, often have regular flag burning ceremonies to retire flags that are no longer suited for flying.

Raising and Lowering the Flag

As a rule, the flag ought to be displayed only during the hours between sunrise and sunset, although it may be displayed at night so long as it is illuminated. Raised quickly and lowered slowly, the flag is saluted while both ascending and descending.

Flying the Flag Outdoors

When flying the flag outdoors on a staff, the union (the stars) must be level with the peak of the staff, unless it is being flown half-staff. If another flag is being flown from the same staff, the United States flag must be on top (with only certain religious exceptions), and it must be the largest.  It should also be the first raised and last lowered. When displayed over a street, the flag should be hung vertically with the union to the north or east.

The Flag Indoors

The flag displayed inside should always have the place of honor, and, when situated behind a speaker or stage, it should be placed to its right (the observer’s left) while other flags should be placed to the left. Additionally, the flag of the United States of America should always be in the center of and at the apogee of any grouping of other flags. If two staffs are crossed, the American flag should be on its own right with its staff in front of the other. If displayed against a wall, the union should be to the observer’s left.

The Salute

Saluting is one of the most important ways in which to pay respect to the flag. Citizens should place their right hand over their heart to do so properly. Men with hats or caps, however, should remove the headpiece and hold it to their left shoulder over their heart. Uniformed personnel offer their own formal salute.

The Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem

The pledge of allegiance should be recited while standing at attention, facing the flag and saluting it. Similarly, the national anthem requires that you stand at attention, beginning your salute at the first note, and holding it until completion. If the flag is not visible during the presentation, salute toward the music.

In Mourning

There are few times when the flag means more than in times of mourning. Making sure it is properly honored is of paramount importance.

When raising the flag to half-staff, first raise the flag briefly to the peak before lowering it to the middle-point. When lowering the flag, again, bring it first to peak. It should be noted that on Memorial Day the flag ought to be raised at half-staff until noon, before being raised to full-staff from noon until sunset.

When covering a casket, the union should be at the head and over the left shoulder. The flag is not lowered into the ground.

The United States of America has an extremely proud and storied history. Whether you or your loved ones are veterans, current service members, or simply patriots, there is no better way to honor the struggle and majesty of this country than by honoring the flag. It’s a simple measure, but it’s a powerful one – and it’s one that speaks volumes.

How to Properly Dispose of a Damaged American Flag

tattered-flag-432580_640The American flag is an honorable thing, embodying the very spirit and ideals upon which this country was founded, and for which so many have fought so valiantly. To honor those values as well as that sacrifice, it is important to take pride in your flag. To that end, there may come a time when your flag becomes worn or damaged, and you must appropriately and dutifully dispose of the old flag before flying anew.

Disposing of a damaged flag properly is an important part of maintaining the respect, reverence, and honor for The Stars and Stripes. Take a look below for some general information regarding proper disposal techniques.

Burning the Flag in a Respectable Manner

Contrary to what some believe, the most appropriate and respectful method of disposing of a worn or damaged flag is to burn it. In order to achieve a proper and dignified flag burning (as well as a safe one), certain steps should be taken beforehand.

Check local burning laws in your area. Some local authorities prohibit building fires without obtaining a permit from the city.

If it is windy outside, consider postponing the burning ceremony until the weather is more suitable.

Construct a fire in a safe location. If possible, use a fire pit that is already in place.

Make sure the area is clean prior to ignition, by sweeping away any leaves, garbage, or debris. These pose a potential fire hazard, as well as their not holding with an environment of respect.

Once the fire has been lit, wait until it has reached a steady burn. The fire must be strong enough to burn the flag, but not so strong that pieces of the flag don’t fully incinerate.

The flag should then be folded in the traditional triangle fold.

Always treat the flag with respect, and do not put it on the ground or carry anything on top of it as you make your way to the fire.

Gently place the folded flag into the fire pit. As the flag burns, keep an eye on it to ensure it is burning safely.

It is customary during this process to come to attention, salute the flag, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and finish with a brief period of silence.

After the flag is completely burned, the fire should be safely extinguished, and the ashes buried.

Burying the Flag

If you are unable to burn a flag, there are alternative methods which are also respectful and appropriate. For some, burying the flag is a viable alternative. If you opt to bury your worn or damaged flag, take a look at the information below.

  • Choose an appropriate box made of high-quality material.
  • Properly fold the flag and place it inside of the box.
  • Dig a deep enough hole in the earth so that the flag cannot be retrieved by animals or lawn equipment.
  • Consider marking the spot of burial with a small marker. 

Shredding the Flag

Still others elect to shred their old flags, and then either bury or burn the pieces. The U.S. Army recommends this as another, viable method of disposal.

  • To shred the flag, use scissors to cut apart the 13 stripes.
  • Leave the blue star-spangled field in one piece.
  • For burial: Once the flag is cut, place the parts into a box and follow burial instructions above.
  • For burning: Place the pieces of the flag into the fire one by one and follow the instructions regarding burning above.

Recycling the Flag

Today, many flags are made of nylon, polyester, and other artificial materials, all of which can be recycled. Indeed, if burned, some of these materials can create toxic fumes that are harmful to the air you breathe. To remedy this, there exist many private organizations and non-profits that will recycle flags for you safely and respectfully.

Pass the Flag Along to a Qualified Organization

In addition to companies that will recycle old or damaged flags, many organizations will properly and ceremoniously dispose of your flag. Some of the most popular of these agencies include The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Boy Scouts of America, the Girl Scouts of America and the U.S. Military.

Conclusion

American flags are more than just the fabric they are woven from. They are a symbol of unity, perseverance, justice, and freedom. Whether you opt to burn your flag, shred it, recycle it, or pass it along to another group to handle, make sure you take the time to carefully and responsibly retire your flag. It may seem like a small gesture, but it is a powerful one all the same. 

A Legacy of Liberty

Each morning, across America, our nation’s youth pledge allegiance to our flag. The brave men and women of our nation’s armed forces defend that flag each and every day. The “Stars and Stripes” is flown the world over as a symbol of liberty and justice, representing the great republic that we have grown from humble beginnings. From a small collection of independent colonies, through the passion and valor of brave men and women who raised first their voices and then their arms against tyranny, these colonies have grown into a continent-spanning nation.

However, the “Stars and Stripes” flag that we fly today is but the latest incarnation in a long line of flags, stretching back to the 1760s, that have represented our burgeoning nation, the groups who fought for its creation, and the growing republic birthed out of the turbulent decades of the late 18th century. Looking back at these flags is like looking back at the history of our nation itself, from the idea of rebellion, to the birthing of a nation, and then its expansion across the continent.

Flags of the Colonial Period

The Bedford Flag 1775

From antiquity through the 18th century, military unit flags, banners, and other emblems served many roles. They were the emblem of the unit, the symbol by which it was recognized, but they were also the rallying point for the unit on the battlefield. As the political unrest in the 13 colonies turned violent,many militia groups arose to protest the tyranny of British rule by force of arms.

In April of 1775, the famed “Shot Heard Round the World” was let fly at the Battle of Lexington and Concord. Flying at the battle was the flag of the Bedford Minutemen. This banner bears the emblem of an arm enclosed in medieval armor holding a dagger. It includes the inscription “Vince autMorire,” which translates to “Conquer or Die.” Certainly an apt motto for the small militias that were about to take on the largest and most professional army in the world at the end of the 18th century.

Remarkably, the original Bedford Militia banner has survived to this day and is currently on display at the Bedford Free Library, in Bedford, Massachusetts.

Sons of Liberty – The Rebellious Stripes 1767 & 1775

Another militia group from the early Revolutionary period was the Sons of Liberty. Early in their formation they adopted a flag that was known as “The Rebellious Stripes.” As with the Bedford banner, the original still exists.

This flag was composed of 9 vertical stripes. The exact meaning of the design is unknown, but it has been suggested that the 9 stripes might represent the 9 colonies that were coming together to determine how they would handle protesting new taxation imposed on the colonies by Great Britain.

Later the group would adopt a more familiar-looking flag, with the design including 13 horizontal red and white stripes that would eventually come to be ubiquitous with American flag design.

Interestingly, the Sons of Liberty were also associated with other flags of 13 horizontal stripes, but in colors ranging from red and black to green and white, and also yellow and white.

Forster – 1775

Also flying at the Battle of Concord and Lexington was the flag of a group of Minutemen led by Samuel Forster. His men marched under a red banner with 13 white stripes. For this reason, it could be argued that this flag was the first to represent the 13 colonies that would become the United States.

Just as militias were being put together hastily, so, too, was this banner. The original was a red banner with the British Union flag in the upper left (known as the canton of a flag). Over top of this was quickly sewn a red patch with 13 white stripes.

Very few of these flags remain in existence. In 2014, one of the originals was put up for auction, with the owner hoping to raise between 1 and 3 million dollars for it. Despite its history and provenance, the flag failed to sell.

The Continental Flag or Trumbull’s Flag – c1775

The Continental flag has a controversial “history.” This flag, a simple red banner with a white field and green pine tree in the canton, was allegedly flown by colonial fighters at the second battle of the Revolution, the Battle of Bunker Hill. While these symbols were common enough on flags within New England at the time, there is no hard evidence that the flag was flown at the battle. In fact, there are precious few references to any flags at all among the colonial fighters. Among the accounts of the British soldiers taking part in the battle, most make no reference to any flags, and only a few allude to a red flag with no other details.

How, then, does the flag enter into the history books? In this case, the earliest clear “evidence” for the flag being at Bunker Hill is from a painting known as “The Death of General Warren at the Battle Bunker Hill,” by the artist Jonathan Trumbull, which is the source of its alternate name, the “Trumbull flag.”

Trumbull was a soldier, and he did observe the battle from a distance, through a looking glass. Though he was well known for his drawing skill, having been employed to draw maps of Boston, the painting was completed more than 10 years after the battle by someone who had not been present. Thus we are left with only legend and artwork to provide context for whether or not this flag truly flew at Bunker Hill.

Moultrie – 1775

Many of these early flags, representing either the burgeoning nation, regions, or militia units also lead us back to the individuals who were leading the way toward the birth of the United States. In many cases, these individuals would be considered the great men of history: militia leaders, regional military commanders, and George Washington himself. However, history is more than the story of the famous and well known people of our past; it also belongs to individuals, often forgotten, whose bravery made the success of those great men possible. The Moultrie or Liberty flag is one that carries the weight of history, both of the great and of the small.

In 1775, war with Great Britain imminent, a colonel from South Carolina by the name of William Moultrie commissioned and designed the Liberty Flag, a simple design of a blue field with a white crescent moon inscribed with a single word “Liberty” in the canton of the flag.

Under this banner his men successfully defended Sullivan’s Island at the mouth of Charleston harbor in June of 1776. During this battle, Moultrie and his men survived 10 hours of bombardment by British artillery, and then forced the British to retreat. The brave men of Moultrie’s 2nd South Carolina Regiment saved Charleston from the British.

During the battle the flag was shot down by British fire. Risking his life, William Jasper, a sergeant in Moultrie’s regiment, ran out from under cover, braving the British guns, and retrieved the flag, hoisting it once more. While the retrieval and re-hoisting of the Liberty Flag may not have had the full rallying effect legend has ascribed to it, it does stand as a testament to the lengths that our early forebears went to ensure our liberty, as emblazoned on the banner.

The history and meaning of the banner continue to grow, to the point that at the end of the war in 1782 the banner was presented to General Nathan Greene as the first American flag to be flown in the South.

Culpeper Minutemen – 1775

“Liberty or Death” and “Don’t Tread on Me” are two famous phrases that have come down to us from the days of the Revolution. The flag of the Culpeper Minutemen was a white banner emblazoned with both mottos surrounding a coiled snake. While the meaning of the coiled rattlesnake is not expressly mentioned in the documentation of the flag, one could imagine a Minuteman seeing himself as a coiled snake, ready to strike at a moment’s notice.

The Culpeper Minutemen formally originated at the Virginia Convention in May of 1775 and was to be made up of men from Culpeper County, Virginia. The unit was not officially organized until later that summer, legends say, under an old Oak Tree on Catalpa Farm. Another legend states that one local man thought the motto too severe, and he would only enlist if the motto was changed to “Liberty or be Crippled.”

The men wore simple uniforms of brown shirts also bearing the mottos found on the flag, and they took part in the first battle of the Revolution to take place in Virginia, the Battle of the Great Bridge. After that battle, the unit was absorbed into official Continental Regiments by the Act of Assembly in October of 1776.

Nearly 100 years later, when war again came to Virginia, the Culpeper Minutemen were reformed, supposedly under the same oak tree as the original Minutemen. They carried the same banner into battle as part of a Virginian Infantry Regiment in the Confederate army during the American Civil War.

Gadsden – 1775

Unlike others discussed here, the Gadsden flag is one which the modern American is likely already familiar. In fact, it is available for sale here on AmericanFlags.com. Today, the flag has come to be a symbol of those who feel, as our ancestors did, that their rights are being troddenupon. As with the flag of the Culpeper Minutemen, the Gadsden Flag was emblazoned with a coiled rattlesnake and the phrase “Dont tread on me,” (no apostrophe), but this timeset on a yellow field.

The central images of the coiled rattlesnake and “Dont tread on me” phrase can be found across the colonies in the days leading up to and during the Revolution. In addition to banners and flags, these motifs could be found in newspapers, on buttons, and even on money printed in the Colonies. The history of this flag, though, is rather simple.

When Congress established this first Colonial Navy, it needed a flag for the ships of that small fleet to fly, and thus was born the Gadsden Flag: the first Ensign of the original American Navy, and also, by extension, the first symbol of the five companies of Marines that were mustered to accompany the fleet.

The flagship of that fleet, a captured British frigate renamed “Alfred,” the others that would join the growing navy, and the marines that fought along with the navy played a necessary role in the eventual victory of the Thirteen Colonies.

Of course, there is a story as to how this banner came to be known as the Gadsden flag. When Congress established the Continental Navy, it enlisted a man to be commander-in-chief of the Navy. For this role they chose Esek Hopkins of Rhode Island.

At this time, a man by the name of Colonel Christopher Gadsden,believing a distinctive banner was required for the prestigious role, presented the newly minted Commodore Hopkins with a flag as described in the South Carolina Congressional Journals:

“Col. Gadsden presented to the Congress an elegant standard, such as is to be used by the commander in chief of the American navy; being a yellow field, with a lively representation of a rattle-snake in the middle, in the attitude of going to strike, and these words underneath, “Don’t Tread on Me!”

Thus the Gadsden banner takes its name from the Colonel who presented the now famous banner to the first Commodore of a Continental Navy, to represent the Commodore, his fleet, his sailors, and his marines.

Washington’s Cruisers Pine Tree – 1775

The “Pine Tree Flag,” also known as the “Appeal to Heaven Flag” and “Washington’s Cruisers Flag,” was initially the naval flag of a series of 6 vessels commissioned by George Washington in 1775. It continued to be flown as the flag of the Massachusetts navy as well as that of privateer vessels that set sail from Massachusetts.

This was a simple white banner with the phrase “An Appeal to Heaven” above a green pine tree. As we have already seen, the pine tree was a very common emblem on the banners of New England during this era. The phrase “an appeal to heaven” also has an intriguing provenance and was used during the revolution on more than just this banner. It could be said, in fact, that based on the origin of the phrase, the entire Revolution was an appeal to heaven.

British Philosopher John Locke had written extensively about the “divine right of kings” and of the rights of a people to rise up against a tyrannical monarch. Without delving too deeply into philosophical tangents, Locke wrote in his Second Treatise on Civil Governmentthat a people have a divine right to rise up against tyranny. He states that when a long series of abuses are suffered by a people, and those people have attempted to remedy these injustices through all earthly means, they are left with no choice but to appeal to heaven and the morally supreme justice of God.

Locke’s influence on the founding fathers is well known and well documented, so it is no surprise that his ideas would find expression in the emblems and documents of our revolution.

Washington’s Commander-in-Chief – 1775

In 1776, the Continental Congress appointed General George Washington Commander-in-Chief of the Armies of the United States. Although no particular flag was assigned for the position, the “Commander-in-Chief Flag” has come to be recognized as the flag of General Washington and his command. The flag is of relatively simple design with 13 white 6-pointed stars arranged on a dark blue field. There have been varying descriptions and depictions of the arrangement of those stars, but the most common seems to be with the stars arranged in rows of 3-2-3-2-3. In fact, there is one flag which has survived from the Battle of Valley Forge with this arrangement. In 1912 the surviving flag was donated to the Valley Forge Historical Society by a descendant of Washington’s only sister, Betty Washington Lewis.

Continental Colors/Grand Union – 1775

If any flag can lay claim to being the first truly national flag of what would become the United States of America, then that honor belongs to the “Grand Union Flag,” also known as the “Continental Colors,” and “Congress Flag.”

This flag was comprised of the 13 red and white stripes representing the 13 colonies, but, unlike later American flags where a blue field and white stars would adorn the canton of the flag, this contained the British Union Flag. Here we have an example of another flag undergoing changes over time. The flag, now known as the “Union Jack,” includes all of the elements of the Union Flag, but with the red Cross of St. Patrick added to reflect the addition of Ireland to the United Kingdom.

This flag, signifying Colonial Unity, was well liked by George Washington, and he had the flag flown to celebrate the first anniversary of the formation of the Continental Army on January 1st, 1776.

What a Flag Can Do for You

Tus-flag-car-window-flag_415_3he American flag in its current form (50 stars and 13 stripes) has been around since July 4, 1960. In 2007, it became the longest lasting version of the United States flag ever flown. While the American flag is one of the best known and most identifiable images in the world, flags themselves come in many different shapes, sizes, colors, and meanings. Best of all, flags can have an amazing impact on your life.

Flags are versatile and can promote your organization or event in a way that no other form of marketing or advertising can. From public image and brand awareness, flags display the confidence you have in your product or service. Why else does every major business or brand utilize flags and banners?

National pride

While not everybody in our country is a patriot, the number of men and women who hold a strong sense of national pride are still the majority of your customers. Proudly displaying the American flag may not seem like much, but it can subconsciously influence your customers in a powerful way. Set yourself apart from your competition by letting everybody know that you are proud to fly the stars and stripes in and out of your establishment.

Retail

If you are a retail establishment, interior flags help draw a customer’s attention to special products or displays. You can also set the exterior of your building apart with flags and banners that advertise specials or simply draw the eye to other promotions. Car dealerships often have flags on their specially priced vehicles.

Clubs

Every club has a logo, and that logo belongs on a flag. From the Boy and Girl Scouts to the Rotary or Lions clubs, and the many different veterans’ organizations, if you have meetings and events, you will want to fly your flag with pride. Consider having multiple flags that are specially designed for  meetings, parades, award presentations, and conventions.

Cars

Whether it’s to support a sports team, a candidate, your state or country, or to promote a message, car flags are certain to get noticed. Due to the conditions that they fly under, car flags should be constructed of the proper material and of a size that will be seen but which will not hinder driving for you or another motorists. All car flags from AmericanFlags.com are 12 inches by 15 inches. They are double-sided, digitally printed on a durable material, and attached to 21-inch car window brackets.

Golf

What would golf be without its flags? Most people don’t give golf flags a second thought, but the flag that marks each pin needs to come from someplace. AmericanFlags.com not only produces golf flags, but they can customize those flags in any manner you desire. Do you need to promote your new set of clubs, clothing line, or specials at the 19th hole? Golf flags are seen by hundreds to thousands of niche customers each and every day. Adding to the impact of golf flags, golfers must interact with the flag as part of their game, so they are sure to be noticed.

Churches

The next time you go into your house of worship, look around at the number of flags that are present. Most religious organizations display the American and state flags, but they also fly the Christian flag, Israeli flag, numerous banners with words of encouragement and faith, and so forth. Many organizations with a global outreach display flags from countries all over the world, reminding their congregants to pray for each and every nation.

Sports

When you think pennants and flags, sports should come to mind. After all, what is an auto race without the starting green and final checkered flag? What good is a “pennant race” without a pennant? Sports and flags have a long and distinguished history. Just think of the number of flags, banners, and pennants that get waved at ball games and matches. Next time you are in need of flags for your team, you know where to come for great deals on quality flags.

Schools

When achievements are won, they need to be proudly displayed. If you are in need of a large display flag or pennants, look no further. The long-lasting custom designs will meet your needs.

AmerianFlags.com is able to produce one-of-a-kind flags or small to large production runs based on your particular needs. From small table flags to monstrous outdoor flags that can be seen for miles, no flag or order is too large, small, or difficult. The materials are matched perfectly with the flag’s intended use, from luxurious 100% bridal quality rayon acetate satin to heavy 200 denier nylon. Best of all, each and every flag is proudly produced right here in the United States.

Top 10 Rules of American Flag Courtesy

flagfoldingsihouette-copyThe American flag is not just a colored piece of cloth. It is a symbol of our country. From its inception, to the Flag Act of 1777, the United States was creating a symbol that its men and women could rally around. Yet, until 1912, there was not a specific rule as to the size of the flag, its proportions, or the arrangement of the stars.  This was changed by Executive Order on June 24, 1912. The current form of the United States flag with its 50 stars and 13 stripes was made official on July 4, 1960.

Since the American flag represents our country, it should be treated with the utmost respect. Countless men and women have given their lives in support of this flag. When you show respect to the flag, you honor them, as well.

Let’s take a brief look at 10 of the most common rules of flag courtesy.

1.  The United States flag is to be the first flag raised and the last flag lowered. It should be displayed on its own flagstaff, but if another flag is to be flown on the same staff, the other flag must be smaller and flown underneath the American flag.

2.  When being flown with other flags on separate staffs, the United States flag should be in the center and at the highest point.

3.  The union (blue background with the stars) is always to be flown at the top unless the flag is being flown in distress.

4.  The flag should always be flown at full-staff unless it is being flown at half-mast as part of a declared period of honor or mourning. When bringing a flag to half-mast, it should first be raised to the top of the staff, and then ceremoniously lowered. To bring the flag down, first raise it to full-mast, and then lower it with customary honor.

5.  The American flag should always be flown away from obstacles and items that would obscure it. It is meant to fly free and should not be in danger of becoming entangled.

6.  Only flags that have been specially constructed for outdoor use should be flown outside. A torn or tattered flag should not be displayed. On that same note, flags should not be flown in inclement weather unless they are designed for such use, and the American flag should not be flown at night unless it is illuminated.

7.  During a parade, the American flag is to be to its own right or at the front and center of other flags also being presented. The American flag should never be “dipped,” but remain upright and flown with honor.

8. The flag should not touch the ground, floor, or goods that it is being flown near. If a flag is soiled, it may be hand-washed with warm water and color-safe soap. Lay it flat to dry, but ensure that it does not touch the ground or floor during this process.

9.  When  indoors, the flag should be displayed to the viewers’ left, to its own right on a stage or podium. All other flags should be to stage left, the viewers’ right. If being hung on the wall, it is to be centered behind the speaker. When on a wall or podium, it can be hung horizontally or vertically, but the union is always to be to the upper left as viewed by the audience.

10.  When the flag is presented, all in attendance should stand at attention and either salute or place their right hand over their heart. The same honor should be given during the Pledge of Allegiance or the singing of the National Anthem. Men should remove their hats.

11.  The American flag should be folded and stored properly. To do so, it should be folded in half twice, and then triangle folded toward the union. When only the union is remaining, fold the union into a triangle and tuck it into the flag’s folds.

12.  When the United States flag is no longer serviceable, it should be respectfully and ceremoniously burned. It is disrespectful to fly a tattered flag, and an American flag should never be thrown in the garbage. Most military organizations, including the VFW and American Legion, will help you dispose of your old flags.

When it is time to purchase a new flag, be sure that you buy one that will last and which is designed for the purpose you have in mind. From indoor and outdoor flags, handheld, car, and stick flags, AmericanFlag.com has the quality you need at the price you can afford.

Top 6 Flag Rules of American Flag Care

american-flagThe American flag represents the United States of America. It is an important part of our country and should be cared for in the manner it deserves.

Outdoor Display

The American flag should be displayed from sunrise to sunset at all government buildings and schools. The flag should be attached to a stationary flagstaff that has a prominent place out in the open so the flag can fly free and unencumbered. The flag should only be flown in good weather unless a flag that is constructed of weather resistant material is used. Flying a torn and tattered flag is not respectful.

The United States flag is not to be flown in the dark unless it is illuminated. Should you desire to fly your flag at all hours and in all conditions, AmericanFlags.com can provide flags of any size desired, constructed with materials designed to stand up to the toughest of conditions. They will also work with you to provide lighting solutions if you do not already have them in place.

The flags are to be flown with the union up, unless you are under duress, and should always be flown at full staff unless a time of mourning has been declared. When flying a flag at half-staff, first raise it all of the way to the top, and then ceremoniously lower it to half-staff. When bringing it down, raise the flag back to full staff prior to lowering it.

Indoor Display

The American flag should be displayed to the right of a stage and speaker (the left for the person facing the stage). All other flags should be placed to the speaker’s left. No flag should be larger or displayed higher than the American flag. If the flag is hung behind the speaker or on a podium, the flag may be horizontal or vertical, but the union is always to the observer’s left.

When being moved in a procession, the American flag must be to the flag’s own right or in the front center of any other flags. The American flag is never to be dipped.

Respect

The flag of the United States should not touch the ground or anything that is beneath it, including the floor, water, or another surface. If the flag gets wet, it is okay to lay it flat to dry it, since you should never fold a damp or wet flag.

To keep the flag bright and clean, it is acceptable to hand wash the flag with warm water and a color-safe detergent. Many times a dry cleaner will clean the American flag for free. During the cleaning process, be sure to keep the flag off of the floor or ground. Unless you are drying the flag, it should never be draped over anything, but always be kept upright and hanging or flying freely.

Storage

The flag should be folded properly before it is stored. The American flag should not be crumpled or tossed in a pile, put in a basket, etc. It should not be stored in any manner that would permit it to be torn, dirtied, or damaged.

To fold the flag, two people should face each other while holding opposite ends of the flag. Fold it in half lengthwise, twice. The union (blue) will be at one end. The person opposite the union starts by folding the flag in a triangular fold until they reach the union. Fold the union square into a triangle and tuck it into the folded flag.


Disposal

Should an American flag become worn or soiled, it should be disposed of in a dignified manner and never thrown in the trash. The most dignified manner is by burning it ceremoniously. Most military organizations such as the VFW or American Legion will take your old flags and make sure they are disposed of properly.

Salute

When the flag is being moved or presented, observers who are not in a military uniform should stand at attention and place their right hand over their heart. Men should remove their hats. Those who are in military uniforms should render the appropriate salute. Former members of the United States military or their family may choose to render a salute as well.

The same honor should be shown to the flag during the pledge of allegiance or singing of the national anthem.

One of the best ways you can show respect to and care for the flag is by purchasing a flag that has been designed and created to stand up to its use and purpose. At AmericanFlags.com, every flag is constructed of the finest materials with the highest-quality right here in the United States.

Flags You May Not Notice but Would if They Weren’t There

Flags are everywhere—not just American flags and state flags, but flags of every shape, size, and color in almost every area of our lives. You may not notice them, because they are such a common sight, but if one day they were suddenly not there … you would most assuredly miss them.

Consider these 10 areas where flags exist, but which you may not even think about:

Streets

Next time you take a drive down your local street, take a look at the street lights and various other posts that line the drive. In most areas of the country, there are many colorful flags and banners announcing everything from sales to celebrations. Others proudly declare historic routes or attractions. One thing is certain: If the flags were to suddenly go missing, the streets would be a lot less colorful. If you want to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to have your message seen, street banners from AmericanFlags.com come with banner arm mounting sets and full customization. 

Residences

As you drive through the neighborhood, look at the yards and planter boxes that you pass by. Chances are, there are flags and banners in many of them. From the American flag to POW banners, from political slogans and sports teams, to banners representing colleges and fraternities, people love to celebrate their past and remember the good times. Flags help them do just that.

Golf

Next time you are on the golf course, just think about what the next hole would look like without a flag blowing in the distance. Not only does the flag show the pin position, but it lets you know how to adjust your shot for the wind. Golf flags from AmericanFlags.com are printed on high-quality 200 denier nylon to stand up to the elements. Whether they sport a simple number or an advertisement for the 19th hole, the absence of these flags would most certainly be noticed.

Clubs

Whether you are giving a presentation, overseeing an awards banquet, or simply holding a regular meeting, service clubs and organizations need flags. Not only are American flags an important part of almost every club meeting, but most also have their own flags and banners proudly displayed on the walls, head tables, podiums, and on flag stands. Look around at the next meeting you go to and imagine what the rotunda would look like without any of the flags and banners.

Races

From the starting flag to the checkered flag at the end, and any number of caution flags in between, a race just wouldn’t be a race without flags and pennants. In addition to the flags used by the officials, many cars fly flags as well. From the pace car to the winner doing donuts in the winner’s circle, flags are an important part of the race experience.

Cars

You don’t have to be in a race to display a flag. Car flags are a great way to show your patriotisms or allegiance to a team or organization. Made out of high quality, weather resistant material, customized car flags are attached to window brackets and flown above the car so they don’t distract the driver. Next time there is a national holiday or a big game, look around town and see the number of your fellow citizens that are flying car flags. Now, think about how cool it would be to have your logo or information on one, or several thousand, of them.

Street decoration

On every major holiday your city likely dresses up their streets, drives, and boulevards with custom banners and flags. You might drive right on by without noticing them, but if one day they were not there you would wonder what was missing. Next time you drive through the center of town, take a look at all of the flags, banners, and pennants that you see. You just might be amazed.

Cemeteries

One of the great ways to pay your respects to those who have served our country is to place an American flag at their gravesite. If you have not been doing so, rest assured, you will not be alone when you show up to the cemetery. Millions of American flags fly freely at sites around the country on every major patriotic holiday. Others grave markers are never without one.

Beaches

Each color has a meaning. From dangerous riptides to jellyfish warnings, closed beaches, and the safe “all clear,” flags are an important part of beach life. When a diver heads out from the beach, they take flags to mark their dive spot, and fishermen use flags and buoys to mark their set lines and traps.

Sports

From on-field flags during matches to massive hanging pennants proudly proclaiming the championships won, there is a long and meaningful relationship between sports and flags. After all, it is sports that gives us the term “pennant race.” We often look right past all of the colorful flags and banners, but next time you are at a game or match, just imagine what it would look like if they were all gone.

These are just a few of the many places flags are seen in our everyday life. There are so many more, from the nautical world to politics, hotels, and the military. Did you ever wonder where all of these flags come from? If you are in need of a flag or flags, get yours from the same place many of the organizations listed above get theirs: AmericanFlags.com.