Flag of the United States of AmericaCoat of arms of George Washington.
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The flag of the United States of America consists of 13 equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton bearing 50 small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars (top and bottom) alternating with rows of five stars. The creator of the U.S. Flag is popularly considered to be Betsy Ross. The 50 stars on the flag represent the 50 U.S. states and the 13 stripes represent the original Thirteen Colonies that rebelled against the British crown and became the first states in the Union. Nicknames for the flag include the stars and stripes, Old Glory, the American flag, and the star-spangled banner (also the name of the country's official national anthem).

Because of its symbolism, the starred blue canton is called the "union". This part of the national flag can stand alone as a maritime flag called the Union Jack which served as the U.S. jack on warships from 1777 until 2002. It continues to be used as a jack by various federally-owned vessels, including those of the Coast Guard, Military Sealift Command, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Symbolism

The flag of the United States is one of the nation's widely recognized and used symbols. Within the U.S. it is frequently displayed, not only on public buildings, but on private residences, as well as iconically in forms such as decals for car windows, and clothing ornaments such as badges and lapel pins. Throughout the world it is used in public discourse to refer to the U.S., both as a nation state, government, and set of policies, but also as an ideology and set of ideas.

Many understand the flag to represent the freedoms and rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights and perhaps most of all to be a symbol of individual and personal liberty as set forth in the Declaration of Independence. The flag is a complex and contentious symbol, around which emotions run high.

Apart from the numbers of stars and stripes representing the number of current and original states, respectively, and the union with its stars representing a constellation, there is no legally defined symbolism to the colors and shapes on the flag. However, folk theories and traditions abound; for example, that the stripes refer to rays of sunlight and that the stars refer to the heavens, the highest place that a person could aim to reach. Tradition holds that George Washington proclaimed: "We take the stars from Heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing Liberty."

Read more at Wikipedia.org


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