- Flag Facts
Vexillology is the study of flags. The word comes from “Vexillum”, a flag-like cloth used by the Romans.
The 50 stars on the U.S. flag represent the states and that the 13 stripes represent the original 13 British colonies.
The colors of the U.S flag are red, white, and blue -- white signifies purity and innocence, red signifies hardiness & valor, and blue signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice.
Betsy Ross made the first U.S. flag reflecting the basic design that is still used today.
Since 1776, there have been 28 different versions of the U.S. flag.
On June 14, 1777, Congress adopted a resolution calling for a flag with thirteen stripes, alternating red and white, and with a blue canton or “union”, with thirteen white stars.
On April 4, 1816, a new U.S. Flag scheme of thirteen stripes, alternating red and white, and a blue canton on which a white star would be added for each state was made official. Each star would be added to the flag on the July 4th following the admission of the new state to the Union.
In flag design, the star is associated with unity, independence, or to represent the constituent parts of a nation.
Although the scheme of the flag was made official in 1816, the law regarding the exact layout of the flag was still vague. For this reason, a variety of star arrangements was in existence during the nineteenth century.
In 1912 the U.S. government specified official patterns, proportions and colors.
The latest version of the U.S. Flag showing 50 stars was introduced on July 4, 1960.
The U.S. flag was first referred to as “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key in 1814 when he wrote the poem, “The Defense of Fort McHenry”. This poem later became our national anthem.
The U.S. flag was first referred to as “Old Glory” by William Driver, a sea captain from Salem, Massachusetts, in 1824 when he cried out “Old Glory” upon seeing a flag given as a gift first untangled from the bow of his ship as it left the harbor. That flag is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution.
The U.S Flag was first displayed in a land battle during the American Revolution on August 16, 1777.
The U.S Flag was first displayed in a naval battle in the Pacific on March 25, 1813.
The U.S. Flag was first displayed in the Antarctica in 1840.
The U.S. Flag was first displayed at the North Pole on April 6, 1909.
The U.S. Flag was first displayed on the moon by Neil Armstrong on July 20, 1969.
- Pledge of Allegiance
The Pledge of Allegiance has been modified several times since it was first written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy. The short and to the point pledge was designed to be delivered in less than 15 seconds. Bellamy hoped it would help Americans display solidarity and national pride. President Benjamin Harrison agreed and after a proclamation was first recited in public schools on October 12, 1892.
Original 1892 wording:
I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
First Revision 1892 – 1923
I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
Note the addition of the word “to” before the republic.
Second Revision 1923 – 1924
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States and to the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
Note the removal of the word “my” prior to flag, replaced with “the” and the addition of “of the United States” after the word flag.
Third Revision 1924 – 1954
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
Note the additional words “of America” after United States.
Current Version 1954 – Present
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands: one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Note the additional words “under God” after one nation.
- the 50 State Flags
Adopted by the state legislature in 1895, the flag has a crimson cross of St. Andrew on a field of white. (A diagonal cross on a flag is called a saltire.) It resembles other flags, such as the flag of St. Patrick or the Cross of Burgundy flag. It is more commonly believed that the flag’s saltire imitates the Confederate Battle flag’s blue diagonal cross.
Alaska’s flag has eight gold stars on a background of dark blue; the stars form the shape of the Big Dipper and the North Star. Before 1927, the Alaskan territory was represented by the US flag. This flag was designed by Benny Benson, a native from Seward, who chose the blue background to represent the Alaska sky and the forget-me-not flower. The North Star symbolized the future of state of Alaska and the dipper symbolized the bear, or strength. The flag was adopted as the official state flag when Alaska became a state in 1959.
Arizona’s state flag is unlike a lot of other states in that it does not contain a state seal; instead, the 13 rays of red and gold represent the conquistador’s colors and the flag of Spain. The thirteen rays symbolize the original counties in the state (there are now 15 counties). The bottom half of the flag is colored blue, representing liberty, while the copper star in the center symbolizes Arizona’s copper mining industry. The copper-colored star has not been set by law and does not have to be a specific color.
This state flag has a red background with a blue-bordered white diamond. The symbolism behind this design is quite complex. For example, the diamond represents Arkansas’ status as the only diamond bearing state in the union (although this is no longer true after diamonds were discovered in Montana and Colorado). There are 25 stars around the diamond border are because Arkansas was the 25th state to join the union. The star above the word Arkansas represents the Confederate States of America while the three stars below actually represent three different things. Arkansas has belonged to three nations (France, Spain and the US), the Louisiana Purchase brought Arkansas into the US in 1803 and Arkansas was the third state to form the Louisiana Purchase. The flag was created by Willie Kavanaugh Hocker in a 1912 contest.
Often called the Bear Flag, California’s state flag consists of a white field with a red stripe at the bottom. In the top left corner is a red 5-point star and in the center is a brown bear facing the left standing upon a grass plat. The words “California Republic” are written in brown under the bear. In 1911, Governor Hiram Johnson made the Bear Flag the official state flag.
This Centennial State’s flag consists of three horizontal stripes – the top and bottom stripes are blue and the middle stripe is white. There is a gold disk with a red “C” around it; the disk is the same size as the middle stripe. The flag was designed in 1911 by Andrew Carlisle Johnson and adopted on June 5th. The exact shade of the red and blue was chosen in 1929 – it is the same as the US flag. The blue represents the skies, the gold – the sun, the white – the snowy mountains and the red – the earth.
Connecticut’s flag consists of an azure blue background with a white shield in the center; the banner under the shield translates to “He who transplanted, sustains,” which is the state motto. The shield has three grapevines on it – each holds three bunches of grapes. The flag was approved by the Connecticut Assembly in 1897. In the original seal, there were 15 grapevines; this number was reduced to three to represent the three original colonies of New Haven, Saybrook and Connecticut (Hartford).
Adopted in 1913, Delaware’s flag has a colonial blue field that imitates the color of George Washington’s uniform. Delaware’s coat of arms is inside the buff-colored diamond; the wheat, corn and ox represent agriculture and the state motto below reads “liberty and independence.” The date December 7, 1787 is when Delaware became the first state to ratify the US Constitution.
In 1900, popular referendum approved this Florida flag. The flag has a white field with a red saltire (diagonal cross); the center is the seal of Florida. Before 1900, the flag consisted of only the seal on a white background. Governor Fleming suggested that the saltire be added so the flag would not be mistaken for a surrender flag.
Georgia (1959-2001, 2001-2003 and 2003-Present Versions)
Adopted in 2003, this flag attempts to combine elements from all of Georgia’s previous flags. The flag flown over Georgia between 1956 and 2001 generated much controversy, especially before the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. This is because the old flag featured a prominent Confederate Battle Flag. As a consequence, Governor Barnes attempted to remake the flag with miniature versions of all of Georgia’s flag in 2001. The 2001 version was not very popular; consequentially, in 2003, Governor Perdue asked the legislature to draft a new version.
Hawaii is the only US flag to feature the Union Jack. The flag of the United Kingdom is displayed in the canon in the top right corner. The flag has 8 stripes of white, red and blue; these represent the 8 major islands (Hawaii, Oahu, Kauai, Kahoolawe, Lanai, Maui, Molokai and Niihau). Some believe that the flag was designed as a deliberate hybrid between the Union Jack and The US flag during the War of 1812 so that Hawaii would not be seen as an ally to either country.
The flag of Idaho has a navy blue background with the state seal in the middle; below the seal “State of Idaho” is written. In the seal are a miner and a woman which represent equality. The other symbols in the seal represent Idaho’s natural resources. The flag was adopted in 1907.
Designed in 1912 by Lucy Derwent, the flag of Illinois depicts Illinois’ state seal with the motto, “State Sovereignty, National union.” The two dates represent when Illinois became a state (1818) and the year Sharon Tyndale redesigned the seal. Because Illinois was fighting in the American Civil War for the Union side, “sovereignty” was placed upside-down (the union was fighting against states having too much power).
A contest in 1916 by the Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution designed this Indiana state flag. The winning entry was created by Mooresville’s Paul Hadley, who also won $100 for his design. The flag consists of a blue background with a gold torch in the center. Thirteen stars surround the torch with an inner circle of five stars inside.
The flag consists of three vertical stripes (blue, white and red) with a bald eagle in the center; the eagle is holding a ribbon in its mouth that says, “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.” The word “Iowa” lies below the eagle in red capital letters. Designed in 1917 by Knoxville’s Dixie Cornell Gebhardt, the flag was not adopted until 1921. She was a member of the Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Kansas The Kansas flag has the state seal in the center with a sunflower above it. Although the flag was adopted in 1927, the name of the state was added in 1961. The state’s motto is represented on the seal, “Ad Astra per Aspera” meaning “to the stars through difficulties.”
Adopted in 1918, this Kentucky flag was finalized in 1928; the flag consists of the state seal on a navy background with the words “Commonwealth of Kentucky” written above and the state flower, the goldenrod, below the seal. The two men in the seal are supposed to represent statesmen and frontiersmen, but popular legend finds the man on the right to be Henry Clay and the other man to be Daniel Boone. Boone was famous for exploration of Kentucky while Clay was one of Kentucky’s great statesmen.
Since 1861, this Louisiana state flag has been flown (although the pelican design was changed slightly in 2006). The pelican depicted here is wounding herself to feed her young (also called a “pelican in her piety”) and is the same pelican that is used on the state seal. The ribbon below the bird recalls the state motto, “Union, Justice and Confidence.” In 2006, a bill was passed in congress requiring three drops of blood to always be drawn on the pelican’s breast on the flag as well as the state seal.
The flag of the “Pine Tree State” features Maine’s coat of arms on a blue background. The background is made with the same blue as the US flag. In the seal is a moose laying under a pine tree; alongside that are a farmer and a seaman, who represent Maine’s dependence on agriculture and the ocean. The North Star above the coat of arms symbolizes the state motto, which translates to “I lead.”
Maryland’s colony was originally founded by Cecil Calvert and this is why the Calvert family black and gold coat of arms is on the flag. George Calvert adopted his coat of arms, which was slightly different, in that it included both his paternal and maternal family; hence, the Maryland state flag. (he red and white design on the opposite quadrants is from the Crossland family, George Calvert’s mother). Adopted in 1904, Maryland is the only state flag that is based on British heraldry.
Until 1908, Massachusetts had no official state flag; currently the flag is a white field with the state coat of arms in the middle. The shield itself depicts a Native American with his arrow pointing downward to signify peace. The white star signifies Massachusetts as the 6th state to be admitted to the US. The state motto surrounds the shield, reading, “by the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty.” The flag was adopted in 1908.
Michigan’s flag depicts their state coat of arms on a dark blue background. There are three motto’s listed on the flag; the first on the red ribbon says, “out of many, one.” The motto on the top of the shield says, “I will defend.” The motto on the blue ribbon, says, “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you” (which is the official state motto). There is an elk and a moose on either side of the shield and an eagle above.
The North Star State’s flag is charged with the state seal on a medium blue background. The current flag was adopted in 1957, although the state seal was modified in 1983. The red ribbon on the seal has the motto, “L'étoile de Nord” (the North Star). The year 1858 is when Minnesota became a state; while the year 1893 written to the right of the seal was when the original flag was adopted. This first flag was dropped because it had flowers around the seal that were not native to the state.
The Mississippi state flag takes part of the Confederate’s Stars and Bars Flag and Confederate Battle Flag. The upper quarter of the flag echoes the Confederate Battle Flag while the three horizontal blue, white and red stripes are similar to the design of the first flag of the Confederacy. In 2001, a referendum was put before voters to change state flag to one similar to the current flag except with 20 stars in a blue cannon; this flag was defeated and old flag was retained.
Designed and adopted in 1913, the Missouri state flag consists of a red, a white and a blue horizontal stripe. The three stripes represent valor, purity, vigilance and justice; they also reflect a time when Missouri was part of the French Louisiana Territory. In the center of the flag is the state seal which has 24 stars surrounding it (because Missouri was the 24 state to be admitted to the Union).
Montana’s state seal is centered on this Treasure State’s flag. The ribbon on the seal reads, “Gold and Silver.” The current flag was adopted in 1905 (although the word “Montana” was added in 1981 and the font was changed in 1985). The seal shows the Great Falls of the Missouri River with a pick, shovel and a plow lying in front.
Nebraska was one of the last states to adopt an official state flag; although it was designed in 1925, the official designation of the design did not take place until 1963. The flag has a blue background with the state seal in the center. It was designed by J. Lloyd McMaster.
Nevada was admitted to the Union in 1864; to symbolize that they became part of the US during the Civil War, the words “Battle Born” are written above the star in the upper left hand corner of the flag. Below the star is green sagebrush, the official state flower of Nevada. The flag’s field is blue. The placement of the word “Nevada” has been hotly debated over the life of the flag. In 1989 researchers for the legislature found that flag makers had been placing the word above instead of below the star (which was decided when the flag was adopted in 1929). In 1991, the flag was re-fabricated to reflect the correct legislation.
New Hampshire’s flag, adopted in 1909, has a dark blue field with the state seal in the center. Inside is the USS Raleigh, a warship built in Portsmouth in 1776. The seal is encircled by a laurel wreath and nine stars. The state seal was modified in 1931.
The New Jersey state flag has a buff colored background. Before 1780, this color was only reserved for the uniform of Continental Generals and George Washington, but Continental War Officers decided that the uniform coat facings be the same color as the regiment’s flag. The Seal of the State of New Jersey is in the middle of the flag.
In 1920, the Daughters for the American Revolution held a contest; the winner was Dr. Harry Mera, who designed today’s New Mexican flag. The yellow and red recognize the Habsburg family, whose conquistadors explored New Mexico’s territory. The symbol centered in the flag is the Zia sun. Four is a sacred number to the Zia people and the symbol has four sets of four elements (seasons, winds, directions and obligations).
New York’s flag consists of their state coat of arms centered on a blue background. On the left is Lady Liberty, her left foot suspended over a crown which represents Great Britain, and on the right is the supporter Justice, with a blindfold on and a sword. The motto written on the banner below the ladies is the Latin word “Excelsior” (meaning superior). The flag was adopted in 1778.
The original state flag was adopted in 1861; the North Carolina flag of today, however, replaced this flag in 1885. The flag has a blue union and two horizontal stripes (one red and the other white). May 20, 1775 is the date of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence while April 12, 1776 is the date of the Halifax Resolve. Both documents played a big part in the American independence movement.
North Dakota’s flag is almost a replica of the flag carried by the state’s troop contingent during the Philippine-American War in the early 1900s. Adopted in 1911, the flag’s field is blue and the banner under the bald eagle reads, “North Dakota.”
Called a burgee or swallowtail design, Ohio’s flag is the only state flag that is a tapering pennant. Ohio’s flag was designed by John Eisemann and adopted in 1902. The blue triangle represents hills and valleys while the stripes symbolize roads and waterways. As Ohio was the 17th state to be admitted to the union, there are 17 stars in the blue field. The “O” represents Ohio’s name as well as its nickname, the Buckeye State.
Oklahoma‘s state flag is has a sky blue field with a traditional Osage Nation shield. There are two emblems of peace on the buffalo-skin shield; the peace pipe represents Native Americans and the olive branch represents European Americans. Oklahoma’s first flag, adopted in 1911, had a red field with a blue star and the number 46, as they were the 46th state admitted to the Union. A contest in 1924 by the Daughters of the American Revolution lead to the creation of today’s flag (although the word “Oklahoma was later added in 1941).
Oregon is the only US state to have a two sided flag! Both sides are navy blue but one side has the state seal and the other side a beaver (the state animal). The flag was adopted in 1925. The 33 stars surrounding the shield were placed because Oregon was the 33rd state admitted to the Union; the year 1859 is when Oregon became a state. Above the shield, “State of Oregon” is written.
Pennsylvania’s flag has a blue field with the state coat of arms in the center. Although it was originally authorized by the state in 1799, the current design wasn’t adopted by law until 1907. The ribbon under the symbol reads, “Virtue, Liberty and Independence.” There is a draft horse on either side of the symbol and a bald eagle (representing the US) above.
This “Little Rhody” state flag has a white field with a gold anchor in the center. Thirteen gold stars surround the anchor because of the 13 original colonies as well as Rhode Island’s status as the 13th state to ratify the Constitution. Adopted in 1897, the state motto at the bottom reads, “Hope.”
Much like other state flags, South Carolina’s flag has a navy blue field. But there is some question to the meaning of the crescent moon in the upper right corner. Some believe that the symbol was worn on the caps of Revolutionary soldiers; others speculate that the symbol is an emblem of the city of Charleston as well as the Colony of South Carolina. The palmetto tree was added when this flag was adopted in 1861; it represents the defense of Fort Moultrie (which was made from palmetto logs).
This state flag has a sky blue background with a modification of the state seal in the center. Gold triangles surround the seal, representing the sun’s rays. Capital letters surrounding the seal read, “South Dakota, The Mount Rushmore State.” The flag was changed in 1992; it originally read, “The Sunshine State” which was adopted in 1909.
Tennessee’s flag has a red field with a strip of blue on the fly end; in the center is a circle with three white stars inside. Designed by Colonel LeRoy Reeves, the flag was adopted in 1905. The stars represent the three parts of the state: East, Middle and West Tennessee. The blue bar does not have a specific meaning, although it does keep the flag from looking entirely red when hanging.
Known as the “Lone Star Flag,” this flag was adopted in 1839. The red stands for bravery, blue represents loyalty and the white stands for purity. The colors of the flag are the same used in the US flag. Texas’ flag is very similar to the flag of North Carolina, but the fly end stripes are reversed.
Utah’s flag consists of the state seal surrounded by a gold ring on a field of navy blue. The beehive in the seal is a traditional Mormon symbol; the motto “Industry” stands for progress. The year 1896 is when Utah was admitted into the Union. Above this date, the year 1847 is written; this is when the first Mormons were brought in by Brigham Young.
The current Vermont flag was adopted on 1923. It has a blue field with the state coat of arms in the center. The banner on the bottom reads, “Vermont, Freedom and Unity.” The pine needle tree represents Vermont’s forests; the cows and wheat represent agriculture, while the deer represents wildlife.
The flag of Virginia has the state seal in the center with a blue background. This version was adopted in 1861. The motto written at the bottom of the seal means, “Thus Always to Tyrants” and is attributed to Marcus Brutus at the assassination of Julius Caesar. The woman is Virtue and represents Virginia; the man stands for tyranny.
Washington’s flag consists of the state seal surrounded by a green field. The seal has an image of the President George Washington on it. The flag was adopted in 1923 and is the only state flag with a green background or a picture of a president.
West Virginia’s flag has the state seal in the center on a white field, with a boarder of navy blue. The seal has “State of West Virginia” written above it and the motto, “Montani, Semper, Liberi” written below (meaning “Mountaineers are Always Free”). A farmer and a miner frame the rock in the seal. The date June 20, 1863 is when the state was admitted to the Union.
This state flag is charged with the state seal on a navy blue background. The words Wisconsin and 1848 are above and below the seal, respectively. The year 1848 was when Wisconsin was admitted to the Union. The state motto, “Forward” is at the top of the seal. A badger, the state animal sits below this; there is a sailor and a yeoman on either side of the seal.
Fittingly, Wyoming’s flag has an American Bison in the center (as the state’s nickname is the “Buffalo State”). The white bison is charged in a field of blue; the boarder of the flag is white and red. The seal of Wyoming is in the center of the animal with the words, “Great Seal of the State of Wyoming” written inside.
- How long should my flag last?
This is a difficult question to answer because there are many factors that can impact the life of a flag. Carrot-Top Industries, Inc. stands behind our flags and will offer you an honest assessment of expected flag life if you call 800.628.FLAG (3524) or email email@example.com. To get the best assessment, please have the following information:
- Height of your flagpole
- Size of flag(s) you will be using
- Area in which you live and/or a general sense of wind and climate conditions in your area
The industry standard for flying a flag outdoors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is 90 days. This can vary greatly given the conditions of the environment in which the flag is flown. There are some areas where a flag can even last up to a year. The key is to select the right size and material flag for your area and that is how Carrot-Top Industries can help. Our customer service agents can give you the best recommendation based on the information listed above, as well as your flag flying needs.
One way to get more life out of your flag is to raise and lower it each day and during more inclement weather such as rain or snow, do not put it on the flagpole for display. We know this is not the general practice for most flag flyers, however it would easily increase your flag's life by 4 fold.
The Toughest American Flags Around...
We make the strongest American flags on the market with fray resistant interlocking stitches and reinforced, 4-stitch fly ends creating durable seams. This helps protect the flag from fraying in strong wind conditions creating the whipping effect that wears and tears the fly end of a flag.
Solid brass grommets are featured on all our standard flags up to 6'x10' in size. The grommets are attached to the canvas header allowing protecting against wear. Rope reinforced galvanized metal thimbles protect larger flag headers from ripping as well and allows for taut flag placement at the anchoring clips.
Vibrant UV-protected colors and embroidered stars (appliquéd on larger flags) allow for the union and stripes to remain a focal point and not a discolored distraction. Finally, the right material makes all the difference. We offer both our signature nylon Beacon® U.S. flags and our polyester Patriarch® U.S. flags and again your weather conditions or desired use would dictate which flag material is best for you.
Let us help you choose the right flag for your application and we GUARANTEE you will get the most life from your flag.