AcademiaAgriculture & FarmingHumanitiesSocial SciencesSTEM

What Does The American Flag Mean?

Updated on September 16, 2016
angela_michelle profile image

Angela loves history and feels it is essential to our future to know the past. Without it, we as a country are destined to repeat the past.

The United States of American Flag
The United States of American Flag | Source

USA Flag History

We all know that the fifty stars represent the fifty states, and the stripes represent the original thirteen colonies. We also know that Betsy Ross made the first flag. But did you know that George Washington commissioned her to make it after a few other men and Washington drew on a piece of parchment what they wanted? Betsy Ross wasn't thrilled to take on this responsibility, and her initial response was, "I don't know, but I can try." Here are more facts that you probably did not know about the stars, the stripes, the colors, the folds, and the meaning behind it all.

First Flag of the United States

One of the first American flags that Betsy Ross sewed.
One of the first American flags that Betsy Ross sewed. | Source

Stars On the United States Flag

Throughout history, the number of stars on the flag has changed. As each state joined the United States of America, another star was added. On July 4, 1960, Hawaii was the final star that completed the flag that we know today.

The shape of the star chosen to represent each state was a unique decision. Prior to the end of the 18th century, six, seven, and eight pointed stars were more commonplace than the five pointed star. Some speculate that the five-pointed star was chosen to further separate the United States from Europe. Another theory is that Betsy Ross came up with the five-pointed star because it was easier to do with one snip of the scissors than a six pointed star. No one knows for sure, but the five-pointed star was a unique decision that allows our flag to be that much more special to Americans.

How Many Stars Were on the Flag?

Number of Stars
States Added
Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia
Kentucky and Vermont
Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennesee
Alabama and Maine
West Virginia
Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington
Arizona, and New Mexico

Stripes on the American Flag

The thirteen stripes on each flag are always seven red and six white. Prior to 1916, there was no consistency about whether the flag had six or seven red stripes. No one knows for sure if there was a reason that seven red stripes were chosen, although some may wonder if it had anything to do with keeping the edges of the flag clean, since white shows dirt more easily than red. Not a very patriotic reason, but a very logical answer.

As for the stripes themselves, they stand for the first thirteen colonies. They include:

  • Virginia (1607)
  • New Jersey (1618)
  • Massachusetts (1620)
  • New Hampshire (1622)
  • Pennsylvania (1623)
  • New York (1624)
  • Maryland (1634)
  • Connecticut (1635)
  • Rhode Island (1636)
  • Delaware (1638)
  • North Carolina (1653)
  • South Carolina (1670)
  • Georgia (1733)

I Pledge Allegiance to the United States

I pledge allegiance

to the flag

of the United States

of America,

and to the republic

for which it stands,

one nation under God,


with liberty

and justice for all.

Pride in America often is represented by the United States flag.
Pride in America often is represented by the United States flag. | Source

Colors of the Flag

The colors were deliberately chosen to represent a theme that our founding fathers felt was important to the building of our nation.

  • Red stands for courage, hardiness, and bloodshed. Courage because our country is based on the courage of separating from what we once knew, courage of starting over, courage of fighting for our freedom. Hardiness because our founding fathers believed our country will outlast the land that we came from. Finally, blood shed to honor all those who lost their life for our freedom and our country.
  • White stands for purity and vigilance: purity because our country is independent and is not corrupted by any other country. Vigilance because our country needs to be alert and careful in the choices we make.
  • Blue stands for justice and perseverance: justice because it is the basis of our country, and perseverance because although our nation is young, we will stand strong against all opposition.

American Flag

The flag stands for freedom and all the things our country was built to become.
The flag stands for freedom and all the things our country was built to become. | Source

Folding the Flag

Each fold of the American flag means something different.
Each fold of the American flag means something different. | Source

Whenever the United States of America's flag is folded, there is a symbol behind each fold and tuck. It is not random, but very purposeful. This is one reason why they will fold an American flag at a veteren's funeral.

They always fold the flag so that way only the blue and white stars can be seen. One reason they do this is so that none of the red shows, because it stands for the blood shed. We want to remember the person's perseverance and vigilance, not the loss of the person.

Even the shape is considered when folding the flag. It is in the shape of a triangle so that it symbolizes the hat worn by Revolutionary soldiers. It is because of these men that we have our freedom and our rights.

What Does Each Fold In the American Flag Mean?

  • Fold One - Symbol of life
  • Fold Two - Symbol of belief in eternal life
  • Fold Three - Honor and remembrance of veterans
  • Fold Four - Symbol of our weaker nature
  • Fold Five - Tribute to the United States of America
  • Fold Six - Symbol of our hearts and devotion
  • Fold Seven - Tribute to the Armed Forces
  • Fold Eight - For those who went into the "Valley of the Shadow of Death"
  • Fold Nine - Tribute to womanhood and its giving and nurturing nature
  • Fold Ten - Tribute to our fathers who gave their sons to protect our land
  • Fold Eleven - Dedication to Jews and represents the bottom of the Seal of King David and King Solomon
  • Fold Twelve - Represents the Christian and glorifies God.

Do You Feel That America Is the Land of the Free?

See results

© 2012 Angela Michelle Schultz


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      jeff 2 weeks ago

      this was awsome

    • angela_michelle profile image

      Angela Michelle Schultz 3 months ago from United States

      Thank you for letting me know. I will look into that and possibly make those adjustments.

    • profile image

      Charlie 3 months ago

      Great historical information. However, that is not the original pledge of allegiance from 1892. It is: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands- one nation indivisible-with liberty and justice for all."

    • profile image

      Isabella 5 months ago

      This was wonderful!!!

    • profile image

      Charlene 5 months ago

      I decided to look up the meaning regarding the American Flag after seeing a post on Facebook about wanting to punish people who burn the American Flag. My Nephew was one of five killed about three weeks ago in Afghanistan, being blown up by a suicide bomber who walked in to the Bagram base there heading for the Pavillion with several hundred soldiers waiting to do a post Veterans day run. Being startled by my Nephew and a few others, the bomber was forced to detonate early...before reaching the Pavillion, which saved numerous maybe even hundreds of soldiers' lives Many people do not know the meaning of the American Flag and what it represents. This is a great article on our Flag. Now I know the meaning of the folds for the Flag and what it meant for my brother to receive a folded one after my Nephew died. GOOD JOB!

    • profile image

      13yrs_serafina 6 months ago

      America has never been a free country. Look back at the lives that the slaves had. Anyone who think that they are free have a strange definition of freedom. Even now people of different races are not treated equally and are not able to do things freely.

    • profile image

      Rob 7 months ago

      I thought there were 13 folds when folding the American flag.

    • angela_michelle profile image

      Angela Michelle Schultz 4 years ago from United States

      I'm curious about your flag? Know any facts there?

    • Janis Goad profile image

      Janis Goad 4 years ago

      I hardly knew any of this stuff about the American flag--I had heard the story of Betsy Ross, though. She is famous, even in Canada!

    • angela_michelle profile image

      Angela Michelle Schultz 4 years ago from United States

      Thank you for your kind words.

    • chrissieklinger profile image

      chrissieklinger 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Wonderful hub with important information and the chart is awesome. Way to go!

    • angela_michelle profile image

      Angela Michelle Schultz 4 years ago from United States

      Thank you so much all, especially you teaches! I really appreciate your compliments!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Love your chart history on the stars in regards to states added. This is well researched and very entertaining -- not to mention educational. Your description of the flag colors is also a great add to the content.

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judith Hancock 4 years ago from UK

      I probably know a bit less about your flag that your other commentators, so this was really interesting. Great job!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 4 years ago from United States

      This is a great hub for this time of year! I too did not know about the meanings behind each fold of the flag. How fascinating!

    • angela_michelle profile image

      Angela Michelle Schultz 4 years ago from United States

      Thank you both of you. I appreciate your comments.

    • LauraGSpeaks profile image

      LauraGSpeaks 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      Interesting and educationional hub. I had no idea the folds in the flag had meanings. I hope no one ever changes them.

    • Civil War Bob profile image

      Civil War Bob 4 years ago from Glenside, Pennsylvania

      Well done hub, Angela...voted up, useful, beautiful, and interesting. I just learned a BUNCH of stuff! Enjoy your day.

    Click to Rate This Article