The flag of the United States of America has storied beginnings. The first official flag of what came to be our United States was the "Continental Colors" flag, which featured the stripes that are familiar to us, but had the British Union in place of the stars. The "Betsy Ross" flag is a highly debated topic among Americans and Vexillologists (those who study flags) alike, as there is circumstantial evidence that links Betsy Ross to the flag, but nothing concrete. Either way, the first "13 Star" flag with five-pointed stars in an equal circle was first hoisted in June 1777.
The number of American States grew, as did the number of stars of the American Flag, which led to some unique organizations of those stars. Even with the number of stars slowly growing from 13 to our present day of 50, the number of stripes has never changed.
The American Flag is easily the most recognized flag internationally, and while most people would relate the Bald Eagle as the chief symbol of the United States, the flag is more significant. The American Flag represents freedom, justice, and the struggle of the oppressed colonists who rebelled against an unjust ruling nation. The flag is indicative of the spirit that embodies all free people to have free will.
When Alaska and Hawaii were being considered for statehood in the 1950s, more than 1,500 designs were spontaneously submitted to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Although some of them were 49-star versions, the vast majority were 50-star proposals. Of these proposals, one created by 17-year-old Robert G. Heft in 1958 as a school project received the most publicity. Heft's flag design was chosen and adopted by presidential proclamation after Alaska and before Hawaii was admitted into the Union in 1959. Both the 49 and 50 star flags were each flown for the first time ever at Fort McHenry on the Fourth of July one year apart, 1959 and 1960 respectively.
Over time, any outdoor flag will show signs of wear and tear. With reasonable care, the effects of wind, water, sun, and dirt can be minimize to extend the life of the flag. Nylon and cotton flags are generally expected to last around 3 months (90 days). Studies have shown that the lifespan of flags flown 24 hours a day is approximately one fourth of what is expected. Some people may replace the flag as soon as it shows signs of damage, but it is possible to make unnoticeable repairs to the flag, allowing it to fly high and beautiful- as long as it looks undamaged. For beauty and longevity- we recommend keeping two flags, and rotating them throughout the year.
Unless properly lit, flags should only be flown during the day time- in appropriate weather. This is in accordance with USA Government. For your flagpole lighting needs, we recommend using the Flagpole Beacon©.
Dry cleaning is recommended for Indoor Flags. In the months of June and July, some dry cleaners offer free flag cleaning services, so be sure to check your area.
Extremely torn or frayed flags should be disposed of properly- in accordance with the U.S. Flag Code.