The Star-Spangled Banner
(Stars and Stripes)

Stars and Stripes



The Stars and Stripes originated as a result of a resolution adopted by the Second Continental Congress at Philadelphia on June 14, 1777. The resolution read:

"Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation."

The resolution gave no instruction as to how many points the stars should have, nor how the stars should be arranged on the blue union. Consequently, there were many variations. During the Revolutionary War, several patriots made flags for the new Nation. Betsy Ross is the best known of these persons, but there is no proof that she made the first Stars and Stripes.

It was not until April 4, 1818, when President Monroe accepted a bill that prescribed the basic design of the flag which would assure that the growth of the country would be properly symbolized. It required that the flag of the United States have a union of 20 stars, white on a blue field, and that upon admission of each new State one star be added to the union of the flag on the fourth of July following the date of admission. The 13 alternating red and white stripes would remain unchanged.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling for a nationwide observance of Flag Day on June 14, the birthday of the Stars and Stripes. It was not until 1949 that Congress made this day a permanent observance.

Guidelines for Displaying the Flag

  1. The flag of the United States should be flown daily from sunrise to sunset in good weather from public buildings, schools, permanent staffs, and in or near polling places on election days. The flag may be displayed 24 hours a day on patriotic holidays or if properly illuminated.
  2. The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is bad, except when an all-weather flag is used.
  3. The flag should always be flown on national and state holidays and on those occasions proclaimed by the President. On Memorial Day, the flag should be half staffed until noon.
  4. The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously. It should never be dipped to any person nor should it ever be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress.
  5. The flag should never touch anything beneath it, nor should it ever be carried flat or horizontally.
  6. It should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, drapery, or decoration, nor for carrying or holding anything.
  7. The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged. It should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.
  8. The flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle. When a flag is displayed on a car, the flag's staff should be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.
  9. The flag or its staff should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. Nor should any picture, drawing, insignia or other decoration be placed on or attached to the flag, its staff, or halyard.
  10. The flag should not be embroidered on cushions, handkerchiefs, or other personal items nor printed on anything designed for temporary use and discarded. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, or members of other patriotic organizations.
  11. When the flag is so worn or soiled that it is no longer suitable for display, it should be destroyed in a dignified manner, preferably by burning.


     New Year's Day      Lincoln's Birthday       Washington's Birthday
     Armed Forces Day    Memorial Day             Flag Day
     Independence Day    V-J Day                  Labor Day
     Thanksgiving        Veterans' Day            Pearl Harbor Day
     Christmas           State Admission Day