The Confederate Flag: Civil War Emblem or Separatist Icon?

Flag of Confederacy

For Civil War buffs, the Confederate flag is a piece of U.S. history that symbolizes an important turning point in our nation’s history, but not everyone agrees that it should be displayed, primarily because of its symbolism.  That’s because the Confederate flag, also known as the Southern Cross, has been associated with racist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazis, as well as other separatist organizations.  As a result, it remains a highly controversial issue.  Continue reading “The Confederate Flag: Civil War Emblem or Separatist Icon?”

The American Flag Trivia Quiz – Part Two

Last week on this blog, we introduced an American flag trivia quiz – just in time for the Fourth of July.  Since then, many flag historians have sent me their own trivia questions, so we decided to do another trivia piece on the American flag.  This one is a multiple choice quiz.  Why not test your knowledge of Old Glory and see if you can impress your friends and family on Independence Day?

In case you get stumped, the answers are at the bottom of the quiz. Continue reading “The American Flag Trivia Quiz – Part Two”

Take the American Flag Trivia Quiz!

Surprisingly, most Americans are not all that knowledgeable about the history of the American flag.  Sure, we proudly fly the red, white and blue every Fourth of July, but most of us forget what makes our flag such a source of inspiration for citizens of this country and millions of people around the world.

Here’s your chance to brush up on the highlights of American Flag History, just in time to celebrate our nation’s 234th birthday.  Continue reading “Take the American Flag Trivia Quiz!”

‘Tis the Season for Flying the American Flag

It’s hard to believe that Flag Day is just around the corner, and only three short weeks later it will be the Fourth of July.   In a longstanding tradition, many Americans will celebrate these patriotic holidays by proudly displaying the American flag.  The U.S. Flag Code dictates certain ways to fly (and not fly) the red, white and blue, so before you start decorating your home or business, follow these important rules. Continue reading “‘Tis the Season for Flying the American Flag”

The American Flag Deserves an Oscar Nomination

usa flag shop
American Flag in Movies

Did you know that our American Flag “Old Glory” has been a major player in many movies?  American history lovers and movie trivia buffs are often amazed at how often the American flag makes a cameo appearance in popular films.  Who knows, maybe it will one day have its own star on the Hollywood walk of fame.

The U.S flag has been no stranger to the movies, with some of its most familiar appearances being in Patton and Flags of our Fathers.  But it has served as far more than a patriotic backdrop for war epics; our own Star Spangled Banner has also played some unusual cameo roles.  Continue reading “The American Flag Deserves an Oscar Nomination”

Before you fly the American Flag on Memorial Day – Read This!

memorial day american flag
Memorial Day and USA Flag Code

When most people think about Memorial Day and the three-day weekend that surrounds it, they are reminded of barbecues, a day at the beach, or the day that the swim club opens for business.  But anyone who has served in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines is aware of a much deeper meaning.  Memorial Day is more than just a day to fly the American Flag from your front porch while firing up the grill in the backyard.  It is a day of remembrance for our fallen soldiers, and many public ceremonies are held across the country, including the National Memorial Day remembrance at Arlington National Cemetery.

According to the U.S. Flag Code, flying the flag on Memorial Day is not to be taken lightly.  Continue reading “Before you fly the American Flag on Memorial Day – Read This!”

Are You Ready to Display the American Flag on Memorial Day?

memorial day american flagFlying the American flag isn’t the only Memorial Day tradition to remember, but it is the most enduring.  Over recent decades, Memorial Day weekend has become known as the ‘unofficial start of summer” even though it falls on the last Monday in May.  It is the opening day for swim clubs, the day when it becomes acceptable to carry a white purse, and official deadline for buying a new swimsuit.  But Memorial Day got its start in 1866 as Decoration Day. Continue reading “Are You Ready to Display the American Flag on Memorial Day?”

The American Flag – “Long May She Wave”

American flag - long may she waveIn the United States, there is no symbol that inspires patriotism more than the American Flag.  Author Kit Hinrichs has put together a fantastic collection of flag memorabilia, a passion she has pursued over the past forty years.

In her book, she shows how many different “official” flags we have had throughout this country’ history – 27 in all!  But that number pales in comparison to the thousands of “unofficial” American flags.  Studying the evolution of the flag proves just how much the American spirit has evolved over the past 234 years. Continue reading “The American Flag – “Long May She Wave””

How did the American Flag earn its Stripes?

american flag, sons of liberty, grand union flagThe original flag of the Sons of Liberty was probably the first version of the American flag to bear red and white stripes. It was during their protest against tyranny that the decision was made to use stripes, and it was this design that the British soon referred to as “rebel stripes”.  Even though the flag has changed considerably since then, and the stripes are not there as signs of protest against the British Stamp Act, the symbolic stripes of liberty have lived on. Continue reading “How did the American Flag earn its Stripes?”

Raise the American Flag Proudly on Flag Day

Flag Day Parade Troy
Flag Day Parade Troy

It’s hard to imagine how a USA holiday called Flag Day could become so “under-celebrated” in a country that seemingly adores its flag.  Perhaps it is because Flag Day falls somewhere in between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, but it may also have something to do with the date.  Unlike Memorial Day and Labor Day, the “bookmark weekends” of summer, Flag Day falls on June 14th every year.  As a result, it is rarely on a day of the week when one can skip work, fly the American flag, and have a barbecue. Continue reading “Raise the American Flag Proudly on Flag Day”

Patriotic “American Flag” Decorating Ideas

Just in time for the most patriotic season of the year, families across America are getting out their American flags and other red, white and blue decorations.  The celebrations start with Memorial Day, and are followed closely by Flag Day, Independence Day, and Patriot Day on 9/11.  Of course, no one needs an excuse to proudly display their American flag decorations.  In small towns with historic and Victorian houses, it is not uncommon to see flags lining walkways and hung from porch columns all year ‘round.

American flag decorations

If you’ve been thinking about sprucing up the exterior of your home this spring, why not consider pleated fan flags across your porch railing.  Or consider hanging American flag banners around a gazebo or decorative fence.  Pair these patriotic decorations with red, white and blue flowers in your garden, and your home will be ready for an all-American style barbecue by Memorial Day.

Looking ahead to the Fourth of July, consider stocking up on extra American flag banners, table covers and streamers, as well as stick flags, sparklers and centerpieces with a red, white and blue patriotic theme.  These can also be used later on to decorate your children’s bikes if your town has an Independence Day Parade.

No holiday cook-out would be complete without a patriotic dessert.  Why not try a simple sheet cake, iced with whipped topping and decorated with stripes made of strawberries and stars made of blueberries?  This American flag cake is always a hit, especially when it is decorated with sparklers!

Fun Facts about the American Flag

More than likely, the American flag is the most recognizable flag on the planet.  Even when it is lined up with hundreds of other flags, it’s hard to miss those stars and stripes flying in the wind, and it is doubtful it would ever be mistaken for the flag of another country.

Most Americans pride themselves on their knowledge of the American flag’s history, such as the number of stars representing the number of states, and the number of stripes the number of original colonies.  But there are many little-known “American Flag facts” that few people know about.

  • Did you know that the flag should only displayed until dark, and that it should be taken down at dusk?  If you have ever been a Boy Scout, this might not be news to you.  But many people don’t know that a flag can be displayed around the clock as long as it is well-lit.  However, the flag should always be taken down in foul weather.
  • If a flag is ever flown upside down, it spells danger.  The only time this should be done is when you are in need of immediate assistance.  Other countries interpret an upside-down flag as being at war.
  • When a flag can no longer be used, and it cannot be repaired, it should be destroyed in a dignified way, such as burning.  However, it is acceptable to dry clean or wash a flag that is dirty.
  • Any individual can have a flag draped over their coffin, even if they are not a veteran.
  • Only the President and State Governors are allowed to order government buildings to fly their flags at half staff.

If you are planning to fly an American flag this Memorial Day and beyond, it might help to consult the U.S. Flag Code to be sure you don’t break any rules.  You can purchase an American flag at the online store.

Why do people call the American Flag “Old Glory”?

According to the chronicles of American flag history, the name “Old Glory” was coined in 1831 by a shipmaster from Salem Massachusetts named Captain William Driver.  As the story goes, Captain Driver was on his way out to sea on a voyage to rescue the mutineers of the Bounty, when he was presented with a beautiful 24-star American flag.  Once at sea, when the flag opened up to the ocean’s breeze, he was heard exclaiming “Old Glory!”

Even after his retirement, Captain Driver would take his treasured flag with him to Nashville, where everyone in town recognized it as “Old Glory.”  His flag was so famous that after Tennessee seceded from the Union, Rebel fighters were determined to seize and destroy it.  But after several attempts to find it in Driver’s home, they eventually gave up.

In 1862, when Union forces once again raised the American flag over Nashville, residents started asking the Captain, “Whatever happened to “Old Glory?”

Sure enough, he was able to produce the renowned flag by releasing it from the quilted enclosure of his bed covers. As soldiers peered inside, there it was – the 24-star original American flag “Old Glory”.  What a day that was in Nashville!  On February 25, 1862, a 60 year-old Captain Driver gathered up that flag and climbed to the top of city tower, where he replaced the small Union flag with his beloved “Old Glory” to the cheers of the Sixth Ohio Regiment.

To this day, Captain William Driver’s grave in Nashville is one of the few places in America where the United States flag can be flown 24 hours a day.

Practice “Flag Etiquette” When Flying the American Flag

Ever since the American Flag was adopted by Congress in 1777 on June 14th (which we now know as Flag Day), people have set about making rules to ensure it is displayed properly and with a high degree of respect.

Even if your neighbors don’t care about how and when you fly the United States (U.S.) Flag, there are a number of guidelines that have been recorded in national law books.  In fact, if you read the Patriotic Customs section of Chapter 10 in the Title 36 of the U.S. Code, you will learn there are many accepted “norms” in how the flag should be flown.

Flying the American Flag

As Memorial Day approaches, it helps to know the proper way to display “old glory” without breaking any rules.

According to the U.S. Flag Code the following holidays are recognized as days to display the flag:

1. New Year’s Day – Jan. 1
2. Inauguration Day – Jan. 20
3. Lincoln’s Birthday – Feb. 12
4. Washington’s Birthday – third Monday in February
5. Easter Sunday – (variable)
6. Mother’s Day – second Sunday in May
7. Armed Forces Day – third Saturday in May
8. Memorial Day (half-staff until noon) – last Monday in May
9. Flag Day – June 14
10. Independence Day – July 4
11. Labor Day – first Monday in September
12. Constitution Day – Sept. 17
13. Columbus Day – second Monday in October
14. Navy Day – Oct. 27
15. Veterans Day – Nov. 11
16. Thanksgiving Day – fourth Thursday in November
17. Christmas Day – Dec. 25

In addition, the U.S. Flag Code encourages citizens to display the United States Flag on certain days that are proclaimed by the President, and on the date when their state was admitted into the union.

Flags should be raised quickly at dawn and ceremoniously lowered at dusk, and should only be displayed after dark if it dramatically lit.  On days when the flag is to be flown at half-staff, it should be raised quickly to the top, held there for a moment and then lowered to half staff.  The same should be repeated when the flag is lowered for the day.

In addition, the U.S. flag should not be displayed in the rain or snow unless the flag is weather-proof.

These are the basic rules for displaying the American flag, but there are many little-known facts which pertain to displaying the flag in public places, on vehicles or in patriotic observances.