Side Trail Article
American Flag: Shame and Glory
Scott A. Gese

The Flag of the United States of America is not only the most endearing and revered symbol of our country, it’s also one of the most recognizable symbols in the world.


No other country treats their flag in the same manor as the United states. So what is it about the American flag that makes it so recognizable?

Field of American flags/ Image source: Pixabay
American flags flying high/ Image source: Pixabay

A Few Attributes of the American Flag

  • An official name — The “Flag of the United States of America”
  • A day of national observance — Flag Day, June 14 was enacted by President Truman in 1949.
  • A national pledge — The Pledge of Allegiance.
  • A national anthem — The Star Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key
  • A national song — The Stars and Stripes Forever by John Philip Souza
  • A federal law — The U.S. Flag Code
  • National Organizations that promote the proper use of and respect for the flag — The Veterans of Foreign Wars, The American Legion, National Flag Foundation and the Citizens Flag Alliance.

Official Colors of the American Flag

Official American flag colors

The exact colors for the American Flag were standardized in 1934

  • The official colors are:
  • Official American Flag Colors
  • Old Glory Red
  • White
  • Old Glory Blue
  • The 8-bit hex numbers are:
  • Old Glory Red — B22234
  • White — FFFFF
  • Old Glory Blue — 3C3B6E
What Do These Colors Represent?There’s a lot of symbolism behind the makeup of this flag
  • The red stripes represent valor and bravery
  • The white stripes represent purity and innocence.
  • The blue canton, (or Union), represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.
  • The 50 white stars within the canton (field) represent the number of states. One for each.
  • The American flag consists of 13 alternating red and white stripes. They represent the original colonies.
About The Star Pattern

The star pattern has changed throughout the flags history as states have been added to the Union.

This current pattern was designed by Robert G. Heft. He was a 17 year old high school student at the time. The design was a class project. His was one of over 1500 designs spontaneously submitted at the time Alaska and Hawaii were being considered for statehood. It was last updated in 1959 when Hawaii joined the U.S. and it came into official use in 1960.

This was during President Eisenhower’s administration.

At least three and possibly more identical designs were submitted.

In September 1958 the Acting Secretary of the Army had already sent designs for the 49-star and 50-star flags to the Secretary of Defense that included the designs that would be ultimately selected by the president. Wikipedia

Not sure why Heft was given the credit other than it makes for a good story.


The Star Spangled Banner/ Image source: Pixabay

Between 1795 and 1818, the flag had 15 stripes. Why?

In 1794 it was decided one new star and one new stripe should be added to the flag for each new state admitted to the union.

When Vermont and Kentucky were added the flag grew to 15 stars and 15 stripes. This flag became known as the Star Spangled Banner.

The third flag act of 1818 revised the second flag act and reverted the flag back to 13 stripes. No other stripes would be added. One star would continue to be added in honor of each new state admitted to the Union.

American Flag Trivia

85% of Americans consider themselves very patriotic, but only 64% own an American flag.

Do you have to destroy the flag if it touches the ground?

No, you don’t have to destroy your flag if it touches the ground. If it’s dirty, it’s perfectly acceptable to wash it.

Is it illegal to burn the American flag?

No it is not against the law to burn an American flag, although it should only be done in a dignified ceremonial manner when a flag has outlived it’s intended purpose. This is usually carried out by an organization like the American Legion.

Ceremonial burning of the American flag/ Image source: Google labeled for reuse

According to the United States Flag Code, (Title 4 Chapter 1) The American flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

Sign of distress/ Image source: Google labeled for reuse

There are six American flags on the moon. These were left behind by each of the six manned lunar space landings of the United States.

American flag on the moon/ Image source: Google labeled for reuse

Flag Flying Holidays

According to the United States Flag Code, the American flag should be flown from sunrise to sunset every day, but especially the national holidays listed below.

  • January 1 — New Year’s Day
  • January 16 — Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday
  • February 12 — Lincoln’s Birthday
  • February 20 — Washington’s Birthday and Presidents’ Day
  • April 16 — Easter Sunday
  • May 14 — Mothers’ Day
  • May 15 — Peace Officer’s Memorial Day*
  • May 20 — Armed Forces Day
  • May 29 — Memorial Day*
  • June 14 — Flag Day
  • June 18 — Fathers’ Day
  • July 4 — Independence Day
  • July 27 — Korean War Veterans’ Day
  • September 4 — Labor Day
  • September 11 — Patriot Day*
  • September 17 — Constitution Day
  • September 24 — Gold Star Mothers’ Day
  • October 8 — Firefighters’ Memorial Day*
  • October 9 — Columbus Day
  • October 27 — Navy Day
  • November 11 — Veterans Day
  • November 23 — Thanksgiving Day
  • December 7 — Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day*
  • December 25 — Christmas Day
  • State birthdays and holidays
  • All election days
  • Any additional days as proclaimed by the President of the United States or the Governor of a State.

* — denotes half staff observations.

Is Your Flag American Made?

Americana/ Image source: Google labeled for reuse

Many Americans proudly show their patriotism by displaying American flags outside their homes.

Your flag might LOOK American, but it may not be what it seems.

The flag you display on your front porch may have been made outside of the USA.

10% of the American flags sold in this country are Manufactured outside of the US.

94% of these imported American flags come from China.

This accounts for almost $4 million dollars in sales.

American Flags Made in China

According to FMAA records, Between the years 1999 and 2014, the most recent year on record, American flags imported from China rose from 1.1 Million to $4 million.

During these years we went through the 9–1–1 terrorist attack and two wars. Our patriotism was at an all time high and so were the sales of American flags. That being the case, I would assume that any American buying a flag during these years would have wanted a flag that was made in America, not China.

I’m guessing they didn’t know where their flag was made.

What’s wrong with this picture. Why are American citizens buying American flags made in China and why are foreign countries being allowed to import American flags and other symbolic items?

Many American patriots would be unhappy to find out their flag was not a genuine made in the USA American flag.

This is a symbol of our country. Displaying a flag made in a China sweatshop as opposed to one made in an American factory located in the United States, doesn’t fly.

Why isn’t there a law against this?

Current Federal law states any American flag larger than 12 x 18 inches must be labeled with the country of origin. Does this always happen? Like most things, there are probably ways around it.

If we didn’t import American flags from other countries, this wouldn’t even be an issue.

What about all those smaller flags?

Field of American flags/ Image source: Pixabay

The ones smaller than 12 x 18 inches

If the flag is on a wood or plastic stick, check the stick to see if it’s stamped or embossed with the country of origin. Sometimes they are. Other than checking the stick or possibly the flag itself, you’re at the mercy of the retailer or wholesaler you bought it from.

Legislation for stricter guidelines has been introduced and passed by several individual states, but the wheels of the U.S. Federal Government turn slowly and as of now, there are no Federal requirements regarding American flags sold to the general public.

American flags purchased by the Federal Government must be made of at least 50% American materials. The exception to this law is the U.S. Department of Defense, which is required to purchase only flags made in the United States.

American blood has been shed and American lives have been given defending our flag and all it stands for. It only seems fitting that NO American flags be imported and ALL American flags be made in America.

Wall of Shame

Final Thoughts

I love living in America. Always will.

I was born in the Midwest in the mid fifties. I’m the middle child of a middle class family. I’ve recently retired from a middle class job with a middle class income.

I’m not one of this countries elites and I’m not one of this countries disgruntled citizens. I believe this country is capable of great things and I believe our flag should always be a symbol of those great things. It’s a symbol to be rallied around, not one to be burned or stomped on.

One of the greatest things about this country is that if you don’t like the direction of the winds, you can freely work to adjust the sails.

This is my country and this is my American flag.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.