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Little Known Facts About the American Flag

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It’s 4th of the July week, so here are a few myths and little known facts about the American flag.

The American flag is all over the place this week, but a lot of commonly held beliefs about Old Glory are false.

Besty Ross Sewed the First Flag

No, in fact, she did not. It’s true that she did make flags and she lived in Philadelphia and was making flags when the design for the first one was submitted in 1777, but the legend of Betsy Ross making the first flag didn’t show up until almost 100 years later, and there’s no evidence to support it. Of course, there’s no evidence to say she didn’t either.


The Colors Symbolize Sacrifice

Actually, the colors don’t symbolize anything. The red, white and blue of our flag was chosen because the first flag of the colonies had the same colors, and those were based on the British flag, Union Jack.


The Pledge of Allegiance Has Never Changed

The first Pledge of Allegiance came to be in 1892 and was written by Frances Bellamy and read: “I Pledge Allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” It morphed and changed from that to “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” That version was used from 1892 to 1922. Then in 1923 it changed again to “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States, and to the republic for which it stands; one Nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” It changed again in 1924 to “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands; one Nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” That version was used until 1954, when it was changed again to the version we use today.


It’s Illegal to Burn the Flag

It used to be illegal to burn the flag, but the Supreme Court struck down that law in 1989 in the case of Texas v. Johnson, when the Court said that burning the flag in protest was protected as free speech under the First Amendment. United States Flag Code also says that when “the flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning”.


It’s Patriotic to Wear the Flag

According to the U.S. Flag Code, it’s actually considered un-patriotic to wear the flag as a garment. It also states that you’re not supposed to sell or display anything with the flag on it. The law reads: The flag should not be used as wearing “apparel, bedding, or drapery” or for covering a speaker’s desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general (exception for coffins). The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed, or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. The Flag Code is a federal law, but it is not enforceable and there is no set penalty for not properly following it.

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