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13 Facts About the American Flag

Traveleidoscope:  U.S. Flag

Independence Day in the U.S. is July 4th, so this week seemed like a good time to do a post about the American flag. Since there were 13 original colonies, I found 13 facts about the U.S. flag to celebrate the country's beginnings!

1. There have been 27 official versions of the American flag. Some of the designs have been pretty, uh, creative...

2. The legend that Betsy Ross created the first flag? Probably mostly legend rather than fact. Yeah, Betsy sewed a lot of flags in her time, but there’s no real evidence to support the notion that Betsy Ross actually created the first U.S. flag.

3. The current version of the flag was designed by an 18-year old high school student, Robert Heft, as part of a school project around the time that Alaska and Hawaii were admitted to the union. He was pissed that he only He only got a “B-“ on the project. So he made a bet with his teacher - if he could get Congress to accept his flag design, the teacher would regrade the project and give him an “A”. The teacher lost the bet and in 1958, the design Heft submitted was officially adopted as the nation’s flag.

4. The current version of the flag is the longest used version of the U.S. flag.

5. Not just any old red, white and blue will do. The colors of the flag are actually strictly defined as Dark Red (Pantone 193 C), White (Pantone safe), and Navy Blue (281 C).

6. In July 1969, Neil Armstrong placed the first American flag on the moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission.

7. The flag that Neil Armstrong planted on the moon is no longer standing, but the other five flags that were placed on the moon are.

8. The U.S. flag is sometimes referred to as “Old Glory”. Where'd that come from? Well, it was owned by a 19th century American sea captain William Driver, who flew the flag during his career at sea. Even after he retired to Nashville, Tennessee, he was quite attached to the flag and continued to fly it. The flag eventually began to deteriorate and needed continual repairs and he began to refer to it as "Old Glory". It was later sewn into a quilt to hide it from the Confederate army during the U.S. Civil War. When the Union’s 6th Ohio infantry eventually discovered the flag hidden in the quilt, it raised the flag in the capitol building in Nashville and adopted the motto "Old Glory” to refer to the flag. And the nickname caught on.

9. When folded properly, the flag is shaped like a triangle with only the stars showing. It should take 13 folds, to fold it into the triangle properly, which is the same number of original colonies.

10. The flag always has 13 stripes, well mostly. When Vermont and Kentucky (states 14 and 15) got their stripes added, there was some concern that adding a stripe with every new state would become a bit of a nightmare. Instead, we went back to 13 stripes and now we add a star to represent a new state.

11. The current flag has 13 red strips and 50 white stars.

12. Federal law requires that the flag be displayed sunrise to sunset, except in inclement weather. BUT, it’s displayed at certain locations 24-hours a day (like the White House) by presidential proclamation (or by law), but it must be properly illuminated during the night.

13. The proper way to dispose of a flag that may have been damaged or that has seen better days is by burning it. Additionally, the flag can’t touch the ground, but you don’t need to dispose of the flag if it happens to touch the ground accidentally.

So there you have it - 13 facts about the American flag to celebrate the Fourth! Have a great holiday!

What are you plans for the Fourth of July? I'd love to hear about it on Facebook or in Traveleidoscope's comment section!

Traveleidoscope:  Philadelphia Flag Mural

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