The Second Continental Congress adopted the flag on June 14, 1777. Congress also adopted the American Continental army on the same day. The United States Army and American flag share a birth date. Obviously things were heating up with the rebel colonists as they were positioning themselves toward independence.
Most of us remember from elementary school days that the flag’s thirteen stripes, alternating red and white, represent the original thirteen British colonies and the five-point stars in the blue rectangle represent the fifty states. Did you know that the flag’s design wasn’t formalized until 1912? Prior to that, the arrangement and appearance of the stars was often left up to its maker.
A famous example of an altered design appeared after the Civil War. When the southern states seceded from the Union, they created their own flag known as the Confederate flag or confederate cross. Stalwart confederate sympathizers still revere that flag. When the Civil War ended, southern flag makers showed their southern alliance by arranging the stars in the design of the confederate cross.
Northerners weren’t above adding their own flag designs during the Civil War either. President Lincoln expressly asked that, although states had seceded from the Union, flag makers were not to remove stars from the flags. A Vermont soldier’s mother created a flag with a circle of stars, minus the states that seceded, and the name of the Vermont regiment, Green Mountain Boys, embroidered in the center of circled stars. These flags are known as the southern-exclusionary star count.
Burning a flag is both controversial and required. During the Vietnam war era, flag burning was common during anti-war protests. It was very controversial, but protected by the First Amendment, freedom of speech. On the other hand, the correct way to dispose of a flag that is worn or touches the ground (technically speaking), the flag is to be burned.
This bit of trivia merely scratches the surface! When the flag’s design was formalized in 1912, star appearance and arrangement was fixed, the specific color palette, and everything else related to regulating the design and use of the flag was determined. The American flag is one of the most recognized symbols throughout the world, often used to represent the ideals for which America is known.
A little aside: Living in the Great Republic of Texas, I was surprised to learn that Texas requires the colors of the Texas flag be matched to the colors of the American flag. Sometimes Texas has it’s own version of reality: Texas first and then the Unites States. So I was surprised to learn it acquiesed to the dominion of the American flag. I will say this about Texas, if private citizens fly the American flag, very often they are also flying the Texas flag, followed by the flag of the Texan university of their allegiance!