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What Do the Stars, Stripes, and Colors of the American Flag Mean?
The Flag of the United States is blowing in the breeze
Sometimes it is called, “ Old Glory,”
Or the “Stars and Stripes”
The colors are Red, White, and Blue
And each color means something
Red means courage – Are we brave?
White means purity - Are we pure and good?
Blue means justice – Do we play fair?
Why stars and stripes?
Stars are considered a symbol of the heavens and the
Divined goal to which man has aspired from the beginning of time.
The Stripes are symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun.
The Stars represent the 50 states.
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American Flag Etiquette
Federal law stipulates many aspects of flag etiquette. The section of law dealing with American Flag etiquette is generally referred to as the Flag Code. Some general guidelines from the Flag Code answer many of the most common questions:
- The flag should be lighted at all times, either by sunlight or by an appropriate light source.
- The flag should be flown in fair weather, unless the flag is designed for inclement weather use.
- The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.
- The flag should not be used for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.
- The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard.
- The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations.
- The flag should never have any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind placed on it, or attached to it.
- The flag should never be used for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
- When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.
- The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary.
- When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner.
It’s a Flag’s Life!
There is no way to determine how long a flag will last. Flags work very hard, 24 / 7, wind, rain, damp nights, storms, bright sun, hot summer sun. Winds aloft may be greater than whatyou feel on ground. The U.S Government generally expects a flag to last approximately 90 days based on daily usage from sunrise to sunset; but not during periods of inclement weather. Throughout its lifetime your flag shakes, trembles, drapes, snaps, chafes, bakes, freezes, ripples, flutters, furls, twists, flaps, strains, flies, unfurls and hangs! Is it any wonder that a flag that flies continuously, needs replacing two or three times a year? No one can control the weather but you can take some important steps to lengthen the life of your flag.
Occasionally washing your flag in warm detergent water will prevent pollutants and dirt from weakening the fabric.
Always let your flag dry thoroughly before storing it to prevent mildew or color transfer.
At the first sign of fraying, have your flag repaired before further damage is done
The best way to stretch your “flag dollars” is to have three flags: one flying, one in the wash, and a clean one in reserve for special occasions.
How to Dispose of a Worn Flag
National Flag Foundation Recommended Ceremonies For Flag Retirement and Burning
The United States Flag Code states: "The Flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferable by burning." Throughout America, volunteer organizations commonly carry out this duty as an act of community service, destroying old, worn, tattered, frayed, and/or faded Flags.
Symbolism of the 13-Fold procedure for the American Flag
The flag of the United States draped over the casket is meticulously folded 13 times by a total of 6 honor guards, 3 on each side of the casket. The following information describes the symbolic meaning for each fold of the flag. It is important to note that the thirteenfold procedure was a common practice long before the creation of a ceremonial assignation of "meaning" to each of the steps. Such symbolism has been mistakenly attributed to have an integral part in the origins of the thirteenfold procedure. In truth, it evolved as a means of providing religious significance to the ceremony and its participants, and is often requested to be read alongside the folding of the flag at funerals
- The first fold of the flag is a symbol of life.
- The second fold of the flag is a symbol of the people's belief in the eternal life.
- The third fold of the flag is made in honor and remembrance of the Veteran departing ranks who gave a portion of life for the defense of the country to attain peace throughout the world.
- The fourth fold of the flag represents the people's weaker nature. For as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him the people turn to in times of peace as well as in times of war for His divine guidance.
- The fifth fold of the flag is a tribute to the country, for in the words of Commodore Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealing with the other countries, may she always be right, but it is still our country, right or wrong."
- The sixth fold of the flag is for where people's hearts lie. It is with hearts that people pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
- The seventh fold of the flag is a tribute to the Armed Forces, for it is through them that the people protect the country and flag against all enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of the Republic.
- The eighth fold of the flag is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that people might see the light of day, and to honor one's mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.
- The ninth fold of the flag is a tribute to womanhood, for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion the character of the men and women who have made the country great molded.
- The tenth fold of the flag is a tribute to father, for he too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of the country since he or she was first born.
- The eleventh fold of the flag, in the eyes of Hebrew citizens, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
- The twelfth fold of the flag, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
- Upon the thirteenth and final fold of the flag, the stars are uppermost in remembrance of the United States national motto, “In God We Trust.”
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"The things that the flag stands for were created by the experiences of a great people. Everything that it stands for was written by their lives. The flag is the embodiment, not of sentiment, but of history." ~ Woodrow Wilson
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