June 14 is a special day set aside every year to celebrate the flag of the United States of America. The year 1877 was the first time that Flag Day was celebrated, though Flag Day didn’t become a national holiday until 1949. The holiday itself was established 33 years earlier by President Woodrow Wilson.
Despite holding this annual holiday in the United States celebrating our treasured flag, every year it becomes abundantly clear just how little the average American knows about their beloved red, white, and blue.
Here are five facts that you might not have known about the Unites States flag, some of which are sure to surprise you.
5. The Red And White Stripes Are A Replication Of The Sons Of Liberty’s Flag
The Sons of Liberty were a revolutionary group started in Boston, Massachusetts, under the command of Samuel Adams (cousin of our second president, John Adams). That group even had a flag, and that flag is quite similar to the flag you celebrate each year on Flag Day.
The Sons of Liberty flag, called “rebellious stripes,” originally consisted of 9 stripes. Each stripe represented each of the original colonies that took part in the Stamp Act Congress of 1765. The flag eventually grew to 13 stripes to represent the original 13 colonies who rebelled against British rule.
2. Betsy Ross Probably Didn’t Actually Design The Original American Flag
For years, school children in American have been told about the legend of Betsy Ross sewing the original American flag. Unfortunately, there is actually no evidence that supports the story of Ross sewing the flag. In fact, the first time Betsy Ross was associated with the American flag was 1876, forty years after Ross’ death.
3. The American Flag Depicted In ‘Washington Crossing The Delaware’ Is The Wrong Flag
Anyone who grew up and went to school in the United States is familiar with the famous painting of George Washington and his men crossing the Delaware River on Christmas night 1776. Washington’s men were on their way to sneak attack a Hessian army stationed in Trenton, New Jersey. It’s a great, majestic looking painting. The only problem is the flag depicted didn’t even exist in 1776.
The real flag used that night would have been the “Grand Union Flag,” which was used 1775 until 1777.
4. A High School Student Designed The 50-Star Layout (And Received A B- For His Effort)
When the United States added Alaska and Hawaii to the union to bring our state total up to 50, we needed a new flag design to fit all 50 stars on the flag. President Eisenhower received several thousands designs from people around the country. One of those submissions was from Robert Heft, a 17-year-old high school student from Lancaster, Ohio.
Heft reportedly designed the flag for a class project, and he received a B- for his efforts. His design, which was similar to a design submitted by two other U.S. citizens, was chosen for the new American flag. It remains in use today.
5. Of The Three American Flags Present At Ford’s Theatre In 1865, Only One Is Accounted For Today
There were three American flags on display decorating the presidential box at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., when President Abraham Lincoln was seated there on April 14, 1865. That night, of course, Lincoln’s life was taken by an assassin named John Wilkes Booth.
The “Lincoln Flag,” as it is known today, is the only of the three flags from that night that can be accounted for in 2015. The flag, which has 36 stars, was supposedly used by actress Laura Keene to cushion Lincoln’s head as he lay wounded in the box, and the blood stains present on the flag have been tested twice. Both times, the tests have revealed that the blood is indeed human blood and consistent with the events of that April, 1865, evening.
The flag is in possession of the Pike County Historical Society in Milford, PA.
[Main Image via 1029thez.com]