With Independence Day right around the corner, millions of patriotic Americans are purchasing flags to show their support and celebrate this nationally recognized holiday. If you truly want to celebrate our nation’s independence, however, you need to first familiarize yourself with the symbolism behind the American flag, as this plays a key role in its meaning and purpose.
Red, White and Blue
These three colors have long been associated with the United States and its respective flag, yet few people know the symbolism and meaning behind them. So, what do these colors symbolize? White is symbolizes purity and innocence; red symbolizes strength and valor; and blue symbolizes vigilance, perseverance and justice. Of course, these characteristics are aligned closely with the values of America, which is why they are represented in the colors of the American flag.
The modern-day American flag possesses 13 stripes of alternating red and white color. Like every other element on the American flag, there’s deep meaning behind these stripes. When American gained its independence from Great Britain, it had 13 colonies: Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts Bay, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island and Providence Plantation. The 13 stripes found in the American flag represent each of these 13 colonies.
As you may already know, the 50 stars on the American flag represent the 50 states of the United States of America. This hasn’t always been the case, though. The American flag had fewer stars more than a century ago, during which it had fewer states. In 1912, the number of stars on the American flag grew to 48, thanks to the addition of New Mexico and Arizona. This remained the country’s official flag for the next 47 years, making it the country’s longest running flag in its history. It wasn’t until August 21, 1959 when President Eisenhower ordered the American flag to be updated with 50 stars. Since then, the American flag has remained with 50 bold stars neatly arranged in the upper left-hand corner, with one star for each of its 50 states.
In addition to representing the 50 states, the 50 stars on the American flag also represents a “divine goal.” In 1977, the House of Representatives published a book in which it described the American flag’s stars as being 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.”