The American flag has used the same iconic design for over a half-decade. In July 1960, the design was changed from 49 stars to 50 stars to reflect the addition of Hawaii as an official state. There are 50 states in the United States, with Hawaii included, so the American flag features 50 stars — one for each state. So, what would happen to the American flag if another state is added in the future?
A Star for Each State
The addition of a new state would require the American flag to be redesigned. The American flag follows a specific design that calls for one star per recognized state. The American flag’s stripes, of course, symbolize the original 13 colonies, whereas the stars symbolize the states. The stripes will never change because they will always be 13 original colonies. The American flag’s stars, on the other hand, may change in response to the number of states.
If another state is added to the United States, the American flag wouldn’t be updated immediately. Rather, the new 51-star design would be adopted on the following July 4. An executive order states the following: “On the admission of a new State into the Union one star shall be added to the union of the flag; and such addition shall take effect on the fourth day of July then next succeeding such admission.”
There are no exceptions to the American flag’s design. It must have one star per state. Therefore, the addition of a new state would bring a new design. Several mock designs have already been created that show the American flag with 51 stars. If another state is added, one of the designs may be used.
Old American Flags Won’t Be Obsolete
Even if another country is added, old American flags won’t be obsolete. If the United States ever has 51 or more states, for instance, you can still fly and display a 50-star American flag. The new design may feature 51 or more stars — one for each state — but older flags with fewer stars can still be used. The American flag never becomes obsolete even if the design changes. It retains its relevance regardless of how many states are added or removed.
American flags should only be disposed of or retired when they are no longer fitting for display. You don’t have to get rid of an old American flag just because it uses an outdated design.