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Citizens Of The Land Of Opportunity (For July 4!)

June 14th is Flag Day, a celebration of the day in 1777 when the Continental Congress adopted the “Stars and Stripes” as the official flag of the United States. The holiday was first observed in 1877, the 100th anniversary of the flag. President Woodrow Wilson established Flag Day as an annual national celebration in 1916. However, it wasn’t until 1949, under President Harry Truman, that Congress dedicated June 14 as an annual celebration of the flag.

Just in time for this important national celebration, here are some facts about the American flag:

* What is the significance of the red, white and blue color scheme?

There’s no official meaning behind the colors of the flag. But, many believe that white stands for purity, red stands for valor and blue signifies justice.

* The white stars that represented the 13 colonies on the first American flag were sewn in a circle. Why?

The 13 stars were placed in a circle so no colony would be perceived as above another.

* What happened to the first flag?

No one knows what happened to the first flag. In fact, no one knows for certain who designed or created the first flag either.

* What do you call a person who studies flags?

A vexillologist is an expert on flags and ensigns.

* Can a flag be flown upside down?

A flag can be flown upside down only in an emergency, to show that you’re in trouble.

* What happens to old flags?

Official flags are used until they are faded or worn. When no longer useable, they are usually destroyed.

* Where did the nickname “Old Glory” come from?

According to legend, this famous name was coined by Captain Stephen Driver, a shipmaster of Salem, Massachusetts, in 1831. As he was leaving on one of his many voyages, some friends presented him with a beautiful American flag. As the banner opened to the ocean breeze for the first time, he exclaimed “Old Glory!”

He retired to Nashville in 1837, taking his treasured flag with him. By the time the Civil War erupted, most everyone in and around Nashville recognized Captain Driver’s “Old Glory.” When Tennessee seceded from the Union, Confederates were determined to destroy his flag, but repeated searches revealed no trace of the Union banner.