Our American Flag

The Flag


In our nation no other symbol is as honored or revered as much as the United States Flag. It is also called "Old Glory" and the "Star Spangled Banner". http://bensguide.gpo.gov/3-5/symbols/flag.html Not only does it symbolize our freedom and liberties, but it also stands for the foundation upon which our government is built.

The use of flags as symbols dates back as far as 1122 B.C. in China. Emperor Chou had a white flag carried in front of him. This flag symbolized his royalty and importance. The navy of

Athens, Greece flew a purple flag in the early fifth century B.C. The early flags were usually used as a sign of battle or a personal sign of the king for whom the soldiers were fighting. Flags were used to identify soldiers in battle. At first the flag or insignia was worn on the front and back of the soldier’s armor. Flags did not become symbols of nations until centuries later.

The first flag of the United States, the Grand Union Flag, was sometimes called the Cambridge Flag because General George Washington raised this flag in January of 1776 at Cambridge, Massachusetts. The cannon of this flag contained the Union Jack of Great Britain and thirteen alternating red and white stripes to represent the original colonies.

The Continental Congress passed a resolution on June 14, 1777 declaring the next national flag. It had thirteen alternating red and white stripes and a circle of white stars on a background of blue. It was called the Stars and Stripes.

The next flag was introduced when Vermont and Kentucky became the first two states added to the Union after the original thirteen. Two more stars and two more stripes were added to this flag. This is the very large flag which was sewn by seamstress, Mary Pickersgill. It flew over Fort McHenry in the harbor near Baltimore on the night of the September 14, 1814 battle. The sight of this flag still flying inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem, "The Defense of Fort McHenry" which became the Star Spangled Banner. This poem later became our national anthem. This flag was also named the Star Spangled Banner. It was our national flag from 1795 to 1818. http://www.usflag.org

On April 4, 1818 Congress passed a law returning our flag to the original thirteen stripes and a star for each state in the Union.

 Student Activity

Now you are ready to design a school or classrom flag of your own. Think about the colors used in most flags and why those colors are important. Hang your flag up where everyone at your school can see it.

Documents of Our Freedom
Symbols of Our Freedom
Resource / Credits Page
Teacher Lesson Plans