10 Fun Facts About The American Flag You Probably Didn’t Know

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Updated for you in 2020

American Flag on a barn in Upstate New York.

American Flag on a barn in Upstate New York. Photo taken by our own Lorna Ruane.

Do You Know These Fun Facts About The American Flag?

You probably DO know the flag of the United States of America is one of the world’s most recognized symbols. It’s also one of the most beautifully designed. From a brand perspective, it has outlasted any other American design. Here are some fun facts about our nation’s flag…

Our flag was first adopted in 1777, and it has a long history of fun and quirky facts. To celebrate the 4th and our love of all things American, we’re sharing some fun facts about The American Flag, and just a few of the many ways the design has been used. Technically, none of these designs are legal, but they sure are fun.

A lifeguard station on South Beach, Miami

The Flag Motif on A lifeguard Station on South Beach, Miami

1. Its Proper Name

The correct way to refer to the flag is ‘Flag of the United States of America.’ Any other name is a nickname, including ‘The American Flag.”

The proper name for a flag designer is vexillologist . I bet you didn’t know that!

2. Popular Nicknames for Our Flag

Our national flag has been around for about 240 years. In that time it’s managed to pick up a few different monikers.

  • The Star-Spangled Banner
  • Stars and Stripes
  • The American Flag
  • Old Glory
  • Red, White and Blue
Weird-American-Flags

Weird ways people have used American Flags. Using the Stars and Stripes design is a piece of cake.

3. The rule is 13 Stripes and 50 Stars

Our national flag has 13 stripes and 50 stars. In 1818, Congress sought to eliminate confusion and established rules on how many stars and stripes should appear on the flag.

There will always be 13 stripes.

These stripes represent the original 13 British colonies that declared independence from Great Britain in 1776. The number of stars always represent the number of states.

There are currently 50 states, hence the 50 stars. I wonder how they will be rearranged if we annex another state?

Official-American-Flag

4. This Version is the 27th

Another fun fact about the American Flag is that the current flag is the 27th version. The flag has changed over the years to reflect the number of states that make up the whole of the United States.

With the exception of one version of the flag that had 15 stripes, the flag has always had 13 stripes. I guess they realized if they kept adding stripes, it just wouldn’t work. An early example of brand standards at work.

The American flag in paintings

I probably inherited a love of our flag through my father, Salvatore Lodico. He was in advertising, but when he retired, he went back to his first love, painting, and did so for another 30 years. He painted the flag numerous times, as a symbol of hope but also negatively as a political commentary. These are a few of his paintings that included the flag…

American-Flag-paintings-by Salvatore Lodico

American Flag paintings by my father, Salvatore Lodico, who had a lifelong love affair with it.

If you like these paintings, view all of my father’s work here.

American-Flag-Paintings-Jasper-Johns-and-Childe-Hassam

My dad wasn’t the only painter with a penchant for painting the flag.

Frederick Childe Hassam created the one on the top right, known as the Greatest Display the American Flags Ever Seen in New York in 1917. This hangs in the NY Historical Society. Jasper Johns gained fame with his then controversial flag paintings in the 1960’s. (All on the left) The second from the top right is by Paul Stanley of KISS, and the bottom right is by Leroy Neiman.

5. The flag’s design has standardized rules

The Flag Resolution of June 14, 1777 “Resolved that the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation,” according to the Smithsonian. This beauty is credited to Betsy Ross.

Flag-of-the-United-States-(1777-1795)-Wikipedia

The original design courtesy of Wikipedia

In a bid to standardize the flag (some states rearranged the stars out of the grid format), President Taft introduced regulated proportions and standardization rules in an Executive Order on June 24, 1912.

Fun facts about the American Flag is which way the stars point…yes, it matters!

One rule was the stars must be positioned with a single point facing upward. It makes sense if you think about what would happen if they weren’t.

6. There are official colors of the American Flag

The rules are strict on the official colors of the flag. This is a great early example of brand standards . The colors are very specific shades.
The three official colors are:

1. White
2. Old Glory Red
3. Old Glory Blue (hence the nickname Old Glory).

American-Flag-in-Typography

The American Flag designed with Typography

7. It’s The First Flag To Last More Than 50 Years

The flag was last updated in 1959 when Hawaii joined the United States. The current version is the longest-running version of the flag. It came into official use in 1960 and is the first flag design to have lasted more than 50 years.

We love graphic design! See our work here.

8. There is a Proper Way To Display The Flag

The proper stationary vertical display of the flag is that the canton (the blue box of stars) should always be positioned in the upper left. Displaying the flag upside down is a no-no.

American-Flag-Design-on-Novelty-Items

More illegal designs using the American Flag

9. There is a Flag Code

There is also a flag code that governs the treatment and use of the flag. Examples include:

  • The flag should only be displayed near public buildings
  • It should never be displayed upside down.
  • When displayed, it should never be drawn back or bunched up in any way.
  • The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling. (Really? Who decided that and why?)
  • Our flag should never be used for advertising and should not be embroidered, printed, or otherwise impressed on anything intended to be discarded after temporary use (for example, cushions, napkins, handkerchiefs). Good luck with that one!

Here’s a cool idea! Totally illegal in every way, but have to give it high marks for creativity and execution.

Flag-Made-of- Paper Eagle-Feathers

10. Today’s Flag Was Designed By A High School Student

Can you believe the current flag was designed by a high school student as part of a class project? When Alaska and Hawaii became the 49th and 50th states, the flag needed to be updated because the stars need to match the number of states.

As you can imagine, the president at the time (President Eisenhower) received thousands of design ideas for the new American flag.

One of them was from 17-year-old Robert G. Heft, who was a student at Lancaster High in Ohio. He was one of three people to submit the version that was accepted and remains in use today. Believe it or not, Robert only got a B- on his project… We think he got an A+ at life!!

A fun fact about The American Flag is that all of these designs are technically illegal.

A fun fact about The American Flag is that all of these designs are technically illegal.

BONUS fun fact: Technically, any use of the flag other than displaying it as a banner is illegal.

The funnest fact of all about The American Flag is that it would create an awful lot of criminals, if not for the authorities turning a blind eye to enforcing it.

A very nice byproduct of our Freedom of Speech.

I hope you enjoyed these Fun facts about the American Flag as much as I enjoyed finding them. Happy 4th of July!

American-Flag-made-from-cans

American Flag made from cans at the Dream Downtown Hotel in New York

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