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The American flag we know and admire today didn’t always look this way. There’s a deeper history to the flag’s creation and the way it evolved to its current design. Continue reading this brief history of the American flag to better understand the story and meaning behind the famous stars and stripes.
The Grand Union Flag
Before an official American flag came to be—before America was a truly separate nation—there was the Grand Union Flag. Created around 1775, the flag portrayed 13 red and white stripes and a British Union Jack in the top left corner.
Colonists of America wanted to distinguish themselves from Britain and establish their own nation. This flag would not act as a long-lasting symbol of the developing American country. They were fighting for their independence, and the progression of the flag’s design represents this story.
The First Design of the American Flag
The Revolutionary War was booming. The Second Continental Congress knew the Grand Union Flag would not last. They needed a better depiction of the evolving country.
Together, they decided on a flag with 13 alternating red and white stripes. In the top left corner, there would be a blue region with 13 white stars to represent the Union.
Sewing the First American Flag
A Philadelphia seamstress named Betsy Ross was given this design. George Washington, Robert Morris, and Colonel George Ross requested that Betsy sew the flag. She was given instructions based on a sketch of the previously mentioned design.
There is some skepticism about if Ross truly sewed the first flag. While there is some uncertainty, she is still credited with this incredible accomplishment and adored by the country for her contribution to the nation.
Adopting the Official U.S. Flag
Congress officially adopted the design as the national flag on June 14th of 1777. Over time, Congress passed several acts that allowed changes to be made to the design to accommodate new states. Today, we recognize the American flag with 50 stars representing the Union, paired with 13 horizontal stripes (seven red and six white).
The colors of red, white, and blue each hold meaning to the country. Blue represents vigilance and justice. Red symbolizes valor, and white represents purity and innocence. Behind each piece of the design is a purpose like no other.
Celebrating Flag Day
In 1949, Congress voted to designate June 14th as a national holiday. We celebrate each year to commemorate the glorious creation of the American flag. It means just as much to American citizens today as it meant to those fighting for their lives during the Revolutionary War.
Various types of flags show support for our troops. The American flag is the ultimate symbol. With all the hardships Americans faced to establish our country and the military personnel that continue to protect it, we honor those who served with the American flag. The history of the stars and stripes represents every sacrifice to achieve the nation we inhabit today.