If you really like the American flag, you might be really hyped for Flag Day, which literally just celebrates when America adopted its flag on June 14th, 1777. Flag Day as a holiday wouldn’t be observed at least for another 100 years after the flag was adopted in the first place. It wouldn’t be signed into law until 1949 as a national holiday until 1943 under then-president Truman. Flag day isn’t a federal holiday so don’t expect to be getting any days off, though. Pennsylvania celebrates it as a state holiday, so we guess you can take that into account if you ever plan on moving states. Whichever state, here are some facts about the American flag you can flex on Flag Day.
1. As of 1943, you can no longer be forced to salute the American flag in school. The Supreme Court held by a 6-3 majority that public schools forcing students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance was a violation of the Free Speech Clause. This undid a decision three years prior, where the Supreme Court held it was possible to force students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance as a means of persecuting Jehovah’s Witnesses.
2. Red, white, and blue bore no official, symbolic meaning to the American flag when it was first adopted in 1777. The colors did have symbolic roots, though.
3. However, in 1776 the Continental Congress created America’s seal–which also features red, white, and blue. Red was a symbol of “hardiness and valour,” white was “purity and innocence,” and blue was “vigilance, perseverance, and justice.”
4. Despite that, 29 countries have red, white, and blue flags.
5. You don’t have to destroy the American flag if it touches the ground. If it gets dirty you have to wash it though, since the flag has to be flown with “dignity.”
6. Speaking of dignity, if a flag is damaged beyond repair you also have to destroy it with dignity. The law specifies burning as a dignified means.
7. Speaking of flag burning, it’s considered free speech to burn an American flag, and it’s not illegal.
8. Displaying the flag upside down is meant to signal distress.
9. Using the flag as bedding, clothing, or drapery is actually considered disrespectful to the flag under Title 4 of the US Code, Section 8. It’s the same law that specifies you should burn a sufficiently damaged flag.
10. Also that same law says you’re not allowed to ever use the flag as a means of advertising, and no part of the flag should be used as costume or an athletic uniform. For organizations considered patriotic, this restriction is eased–but lapel flag pins have to be worn near the heart. Why? “The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.”
11. There have been 27 versions of the American flag.
12. You can be imprisoned for up to one year for desecrating the American flag.
13. The flag had 15 stripes when Vermont and Kentucky joined the union so there would be 15 stars and 15 strips. We went back to 13 to symbolize the original colonies because we kept adding states. Imagine a 50 stripe flag.
14. When flown at night, the flag has to be illuminated.
15. Flags can’t be flown above the American flag. Other countries can be picky about flying flags too, which is why multinational organizations must have headaches figuring it all out.
16. There have been 6 American flags on the Moon. They’re definitely bleached white now.
See if you know other flags here.