The flag displaying 13 stars (pictured at left) in a circle with 13 stripes, according to legend, was made by Betsy Ross at George Washington's request in June of 1777. Contrary to popular belief, the Betsy Ross Flag is not acknowledged as the first official U.S. Flag. . . Although some writings refer to the Betsy Ross as being adopted as our first flag, our first "official" legal U.S. flag had a staggered pattern of stars.

There are 27 legal U.S. flags that have been flown throughout our history. By law, a star is added on July 4th following the admission of the State(s) to the Union. The staggered & symmetrical star patterns have been used on all 27 of our legal U.S. flags. The first of these 27 was the flag for the original 13 states, from 1777-1795, and it had 5 rows of stars, 3,2,3,2,3. The first flag to replace it had 15 stars. A little-known fact is that it also had 15 stripes. In use from 1795 -1818, it acknowledged the new states of Kentucky & Vermont. During the War of 1812 this Star Spangled Banner, as it was referred to, was the inspiration for Francis Scott Key, who composed what later became our National Anthem. The restored flag now hangs in the Smithsonian. Born of the need for a more practical design to accommodate new states entering the Union, on April 4, 1818, Congress established the number of stripes to always be thirteen, seven red and six white, and provided for the addition of stars only for each new state. The current 50-star flag has been in use since July 4, 1960, when the star for Hawaii, our 50th state, was added. (Alaska, our 49th state, was added in 1959).

No U.S. Flag ever becomes obsolete. Each of the 27 flags is still a legal U.S. Flag and may be flown at any time. All 27 are available from Harbortown Flag, along with 50 other historical flags of the U.S. These other flags include the Bennington (76), the Betsy Ross, the Gadsden (Don't Tread on Me), pictured at the left, the Culpepper (Liberty or Death), Confederate flags, and other specialty historical flags.

There are currently 191 countries who are members of the UN (United Nations), and 35 who are members of the OAS (Organization of American States). The flag pictured at the left is the flag of the United Nations. Along with the flags of the 50 states, there are also flags for the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories, such as Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

From 1862 until 1885 the cavalry guidon used by the U.S. Army followed the national flag as its basic design, but with a deep triangle cut into the fly end. This banner saw extensive service during the Civil War and the subsequent battles with Indians in the west. General Custer, for example, flew this guidon at his famous "last stand." From his description, it seems that the flag of Ohio designed by John Eisenmann was inspired by this cavalry guidon, although it had been out of use for 16 years at the time. There are some differences between the two flags. Mr. Eisenmann only wished to suggest the loyalty of Ohio to the Union. He patented his design in 1901, and the Ohio General Assembly (the State Legislature) adopted the flag officially on May 9, 1902. At that time, Eisenmann signed over his patent on the design. The inspiration of his flag was explained as follows: The triangles formed by the main lines of the flag represent the hills and valleys in the State Seal. The stripes represent the roads and waterways. The stars around the circle represent the 13 original states. The fact that Ohio was the 17 th state admitted into the Union is shown by the additional 4 stars. The white circle with its red center represents the initial letter of Ohio and the "Buckeye State." (The buckeye was made the official state tree in 1953.) The Ohio flag was flown over the Ohio Building at the Pan-American Exposition in 1901 held at Buffalo, NY. President McKinley saw it there just before his assassination at the Exposition.

What the flag-draped coffin really means...

At military funerals, the 21-gun salute stands for the sum of the numbers in the year 1776.

Have you ever noticed the honor guard pays meticulous attention to correctly folding the United States of America Flag 13 times? You probably thought it was to symbolize the original 13 colonies, but...

The 1st fold of the flag is a symbol of life.

The 2nd fold is a symbol of the belief in eternal life.

The 3rd fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing the ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of the country to attain peace throughout the world.

The 4th fold represents the weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.

The 5th fold is a tribute to the country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, "Our Country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.

The 6th fold is for where people's hearts lie. It is with their heart that They pledge allegiance to the flag of the United! States Of America, and the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

The 7th fold is a tribute to its Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that they protect their country and their flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of their republic.

The 8th fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day.

The 9th fold is a tribute to womanhood, and Mothers. For it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.

The 10th fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of their country since they were first born.

The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies in the Hebrews eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in the Christians eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.

The 13th fold, or when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding them of their nations motto, "In God We Trust."

After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington, and the Sailors and Marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for them the rights, privileges and freedoms they enjoy today.

Flag Facts and Trivia...