While most people connect the name “Betsy Ross” with the American flag, the history of Old Glory isn’t very well-known. As we head towards Independence Day, we look back at how the United States flag came to be, along with rules for protecting Old Glory.
The Flags before Old Glory
In 1775, discontented colonists wanted a flag that represented their independence. An early version of the flag featuring a snake with the slogan “Don’t Tread on Me” was very popular. It was replaced by a version with an evergreen tree and red, white, and blue stripes. The tree was called the “Liberty Tree.”
Another version in late 1775 featured the British Union Jack along with 13 stripes to represent the 13 colonies. A seamstress from Philadelphia came on the scene five months later with another version.
The seamstress, Betsy Ross, replaced the Union Jack with a circle of 13 stars designed to represent each of the original colonies. This version was officially adopted on June 14, 1777. It’s a day we now designate as Flag Day.
While the flag has undergone several adaptations, popular folklore says this is its origin. On holidays like Memorial Day, Flag Day, and Independence Day, Americans fly their flag proudly.
American Flag Etiquette
As you prepare your flag to fly on Independence Day, keep these etiquette tips in mind:
- Unless there is lighting to illuminate the flag, it should be flown only from sunrise to sunset.
- The flag should always fall freely and not be fastened or tied back.
- While you may hang a flag against a wall, it should never be tucked or draped.
- Wherever you hang the flag should always be kept clean. Unless the flag is made of all-weather material, it should never be flown during inclement weather.
- The flag should never touch the ground, even when you are preparing it for hanging.
- If the flag is displayed in a window, the stars should face north.
- Never use the flag for a decoration or as clothing.
- Only in an emergency can the flag be flown upside down.
- Should the flag be placed over a street, the stars should face north or east.
- If several flags are displayed in a row, the American flag should be placed on the viewer’s left.
- When state and local flags are displayed with the American flag, the U.S. flag should be the highest one.
- If the American flag is being carried in a procession or parade, audience members should stand, face the flag, and place a hand over their heart. Men should remove their hats.
- During any procession or parade that includes the American flag, veterans, as well as military, police, and fire personnel, should salute the flag.
- On Memorial Day, the American flag should be flown at half-staff until noon. Then, it should be raised to full height.