Read Up on These Fun Facts About the American Flag

·4 min read

The Stars and Stripes, Old Glory, the Star-Spangled Banner—the American flag goes by many names and is easily the most iconic symbol of our nation. But even though you'd know those stars and stripes anywhere, there may still be a lot you don't know about the American flag. To help you brush up on your history, we've rounded up some fascinating American flag facts below.

Independence Day is quickly approaching, so in addition to your 4th of July menu, you might want to have a few of these bits of trivia on hand for whatever 4th of July activity you have planned. You can either wow your friends and family with them in casual conversation, or create a fun quiz to see who knows their stuff. The winner gets the first slice of flag cake!

Read on for everything you should know about the American flag.

There are 50 stars and 13 stripes on the current flag.

Most people know that the current version of the flag has 50 stars (to represent the 50 U.S. states), and you may or may not know that it has 13 stripes.

Photo credit: photosoul - Getty Images
Photo credit: photosoul - Getty Images

The original flag, created in 1777, had 13 stars and 13 stripes, which represented the 13 American colonies. Since then, there have been 27 versions of the American flag, according to the National Flag Foundation.

The first flag was created by Betsy Ross—or was it?

Although it is widely believed that the Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross made and helped design the first American flag, historians have never been able to verify that completely, according to History.com. The story we all know now didn't crop up until 100 years after the first flag was supposedly sewn, when William Canby, Betsy Ross's grandson, held a press conference claiming his grandmother made the flag at George Washington’s request.

The current 50-state flag was designed by a high school student.

Photo credit: Rawpixel - Getty Images
Photo credit: Rawpixel - Getty Images

Who knew the American flag was designed by a teenager?! In 1958, then-17-year-old Robert G. Heft of Lancaster, Ohio submitted the design in a contest. President Dwight Eisenhower chose Robert's design from over 1,500 other submissions.

The flag actually can be displayed for 24 hours a day—but there's a catch.

Federal law states that the flag should be displayed only between sunrise and sunset. However, you can display the flag for all 24 hours if you use lighting to ensure that it can be seen in the dark, the National Flag Foundation says.

Flags should be "destroyed in a dignified way."

Although many consider burning the flag a sign of disrespect, that's not always the case. In fact, the National Flag Foundation notes that this is actually the preferred way to dispose of an American flag that is damaged or worn beyond repair. The U.S. Flag Code says, “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”

The flag should never touch the ground.

Photo credit: RoschetzkyIstockPhoto - Getty Images
Photo credit: RoschetzkyIstockPhoto - Getty Images

According to U.S. Code, you should never let the flag touch the ground or water. The flag is often flown at half-staff during periods of mourning or national days of remembrance. A few other notable rules say you should never: display a flag upside down (except during times of dire distress or danger); carry it flat or horizontally; or use it as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery.

A flag that has touched the ground can still be used.

You shouldn't let a flag touch the ground if you can help it. But if it does touch the ground, it can still be displayed—after it's washed or dry cleaned.

Six American flags have been planted on the moon.

Photo credit: Bettmann - Getty Images
Photo credit: Bettmann - Getty Images

The image of Buzz Aldrin on the moon with an American flag is one of the most iconic photos in American history. The U.S. planted the first flag on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. Since then, five more U.S. flags have been planted on the moon during subsequent missions.

What is Flag Day anyways?

Every June 14 in the United States, we celebrate Flag Day. But do you know why? It's because on that date in 1777, the Second Continental Congress officially adopted the American flag as America's national symbol. This year, when Flag Day 2021 arrives, you'll know exactly why you're celebrating—and you can impress your friends and family with these 10 fun facts about the American flag!