Us Display Flags

Written by Beth Hrusch
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The American flag means many things to many people. For most U.S. citizens, it is a symbol of the values for which this nation stands. It is a testament to the sacrifices made by generations who have fought and died to protect it. It has been present at nearly every significant national occasion, and has presided over some of man's greatest achievements. For some, displaying the flag is a way to honor the nation for which it stands, a simple way to express one's appreciation for the blessings of liberty.

The Evolution of the U.S. Flag

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress officially recognized the need for a flag to represent the United States at home and abroad. A Congressman named Francis Hopkinson took it upon himself to answer the call for a new flag in honor of the fledgling nation. Ultimately, Hopkinson's design was chosen, and his original idea remains the basis for the flag we know today. The arrangement of the stars was originally in a diagonal pattern, and over the years changed to a circular and, finally, the horizontal pattern seen today on the modern flag.

Over the years, various branches of the U.S. government mandated several changes to the flag. During the 19th and 20th centuries, five separate acts and executive orders called for standardization in the way that the stars were arranged and oriented, as well as the proper proportions for the flag. Unlike the early days of the nation, when flag design was largely an interpretation of each individual flag maker, today's flags must conform to one design, officially dictated by the United States government.

Flag Display through the Years

The U.S. flag is a common sight at home and abroad. Today, as in the early days of the republic, flags are seen flying in front of government buildings and public spaces. Homeowners often attach them to their porches or install poles to fly their flags in their front yards. Away from home, the American flag has presided over some of the most momentous events in modern history. It has been present in some form at every conflict involving U.S. troops. American embassies in almost every nation mark U.S. territory on foreign soil with the U.S. flag.

Reverence for the flag has inspired many notable Americans through history to protect and defend their flags during times of conflict. Perhaps the most famous U.S. flag was "Old Glory", a flag owned by shipmaster William Driver and displayed after the capture of Nashville by Union forces in 1862. It became a symbol of unity during the Civil War, and a treasured family heirloom that eventually found its way into the Smithsonian Museum. This venerable old flag was sewn into a bedcover for years to keep it safe from Confederate soldiers seeking to destroy any symbol of a united nation.

During World War II, U.S. troops marked hard-won gains by flying the American flag over captured territory. The now-famous picture of American soldiers raising the flag at Iwo Jima has come to symbolize for many Americans the huge sacrifices made for the protection of freedom. Other theaters of battle around the world have been presided over by the Stars and Stripes, a reminder of the American commitment to the defense of liberty wherever it is threatened.

The Significance of Flag Display

Of course, it is easy to see the importance of displaying the flag during times of war or whenever an important occasion dictates. The flag is quite a world traveler and has even made it to the moon! It is also true, however, that the flag has always belonged to each and every citizen of the United States. Each citizen can proudly display it at home, work, or on his or her person as long as proper etiquette is observed. Displaying the flag demonstrates a love of country and an appreciation for American values.

U.S. flags are available online or at retail stores. Often, they will be sold with instructions on the proper way to fly them, and certain rules for their care and handling. These rules are intended to ensure that the American flag holds a special place in the hearts and minds of the U.S. citizenry, as the most tangible symbol of patriotism that most people will own. The place that the American flag holds in history and its significance on the world stage has ensured it a place among the most powerful icons of human history.

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