am-flagThe United States flag is one of our most important national symbols.

On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress passed the Flag Resolution, which said that the flag would be made up of thirteen alternating red and white stripes and thirteen white, five-pointed stars on a blue field. Stars have been added to the flag as new states join the Union.

The flag has 13 horizontal stripes that stand for the 13 original colonies; seven are red, and six are white. In the upper left corner there are 50 white stars on a blue background; these stand for the 50 states in our United States. The 50-star flag we use today dates from July 4, 1960, after Hawaii became the fiftieth state, but stars were added in the past as new states joined the Union.

Images of the United States flag can be seen in many places: flying from flagpoles of public buildings, flown from private homes during Flag Day and Federal holidays such as Independence Day, and worn as a lapel pin, among many others. The flag is also referred to by other names including the Stars and Stripes, Old Glory, and the Star-Spangled Banner.

Since 1916, Flag Day in the United States has been officially celebrated on June 14. Title 4, Section 6 of the United States Code (4 U.S.C. 6) has the official information on the flag, including the standard proportions, rules to observe when displaying the flag, and how to treat this national symbol properly.

American Flag facts and figures:

  • When Kentucky and Vermont were admitted to the Union, the flag expanded to 15 stars and 15 stripes, but was later changed back to 13 when it became clear that adding a stripe for each state would make the flag unmanageable.
  • The official first flag to have the present design with 50 stars was flown at Fort McHenry National Monument at 12:01 a.m in Baltimore, Maryland, on July 4, 1960.

To learn more about the history of the flag and many related facts, incuding how to obtain a flag that is flown over the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, see the Senate document titled Our Flag (S. Doc. 109-18) in GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys).