The Real Star-Spangled Banner The Star-Spangled Banner was made by Mary Pickersgill for Fort McHenry. It originally measured 30 x 42 feet, about one-quarter the size of a basketball court, but a large portion of the flag is now missing. Each star is about two feet across. This flag design became the official United States flag on May 1, 1795. With the addition of two stars for Vermont (admitted as the 14th state on March 4, 1791) and Kentucky (admitted as the 15th state on June 1, 1792), this flag was to last for 23 years. The five Presidents who served under this flag were George Washington (1789-1797), John Adams (1797-1801), Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809), James Madison (1809-1817) and James Monroe (1817-1825). The 15-star, 15-stripe flag was authorized by the Flag Act of January 13, 1794, adding two stripes and two stars. The regulation went into effect on May 1, 1795. This flag was the only American flag to have more than 13 stripes.
O say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light, What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming, Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight, O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming? And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there; O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave? On the shore, dimly seen thro’ the mist of the deep, Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes, What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep, As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses? Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam, In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream ’Tis the star-spangled banner. Oh! long may it wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion A home and a country should leave us no more? Their blood has washed out their foul footstep’s pollution. No refuge could save the hireling and slave From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave, And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave. Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation, Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n-rescued land Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto—“In God is our trust.” And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
The U.S. flag has undergone many changes since the first official flag of 1777. On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act, which said that the flag would be made up of thirteen alternating red and white stripes and thirteen white stars on a blue field. Stars have been added to the flag as new states join the union. Currently, the flag contains 50 stars. Ever wonder why the flag is red, white, and blue? While the flag's colors did not have a specific meaning at the time, the colors were significant for the Great Seal of 1782. White: Signifies purity and innocence Red: Signifies valor and bravery Blue: Signifies Vigilance, perseverance, and justice Why stars and stripes? Stars are considered a symbol of the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial; the stripe is symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun.
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A PROCLAMATION Whereas the joint resolution of Congress of June 22, 1942, Entitled "Joint Resolution to Codify and Emphasize Existing Rules and Customs Pertaining to the Display and Use of the Flag of the United States of America," as amended by the joint resolution of December 22, 1942, 56 Stat. 1074, contains the following provisions: Sec. 2. (a) It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on flagstaffs in the open. However, the flag may be displayed at night upon special occasions when it is desired to produce a special effect. Sec. 8. Any rule or custom pertaining to the display of the flag of the United States of America, set forth herein, may be altered, modified, or repealed, or additional rules with respect thereto may be prescribed, by the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, whenever he deems it to be appropriate or desirable; and any such alteration or additional rule shall be set forth in a proclamation, and WHEREAS Francis Scott Key, after having anxiously watched from afar the bombardment of Fort McHenry throughout the night of September 13th, 1814, saw his country's flag still flying in the early morning of the following day; and WHEREAS this stirring evidence of the failure of the prolonged attack inspired him to write "The Star-Spangled Banner," our national anthem: NOW THEREFORE, I, Harry S. Truman, President of the United States of America and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, do hereby proclaim that, as a perpetual symbol of our patriotism, the flag of the United States shall hereby be displayed at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine at all times of the day and night, except when the weather is inclement. The rules and customs pertaining to the flag as set forth in the joint resolution are modified accordingly. In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States of America to be affixed. DONE at the city of Washington this 2nd day of July in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and forty-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and seventy-second. HARRY S. TRUMAN PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES