• Only the president and governors of a state can order flags on government buildings to be flown at half staff.
• On Jan. 1, 1776, the Continental Army was reorganized in accordance with a Continental Congress resolution which placed American forces under George Washington’s control. On that New Year’s Day, the Continental Army was laying siege to Boston which had been taken over by the British army. Washington ordered the Grand Union flag hoisted above his base at Prospect Hill. It had 13 alternate red and white stripes and the British Union Jack in the upper left-hand corner (the canton).
• In May 1776, Betsy Ross reported that she sewed the first American flag.
• On June 14, 1777, in order to establish an official flag for the new nation, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act: “Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”
• Today the flag consists of 13 horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with six white. The stripes represent the original 13 colonies, the stars represent the 50 states of the union. The colors of the flag are symbolic as well: Red symbolizes hardiness and valor, white symbolizes purity and innocence and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.
Here are some general guidelines to use when dealing with the American Flag:
- The flag should be lighted at all times, either by sunlight or by an appropriate light source.
- The flag should be flown in fair weather unless the flag is designed for inclement weather use.
- The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.
- The flag should never have any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind placed on it or attached to it.
- The flag should never be used for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
- When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.
- The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary.
- When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner.