American Flag Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

The American flag is one of the most iconic symbols in the world. This is the American flag’s meaning, what it represents, and where it comes from!

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In the modern world, there are few symbols as ubiquitous as the flag of the United States of America. This star-spangled banner has gone through countless versions to become a symbol of perseverance, vigilance, and valour. Since its initial creation in the 1700s, it has traveled all around the Earth and even followed the Apollo missions to the moon. 

Even though the United States of America is hardly an old country in the grand scheme of things, it is still an incredibly influential country in the world today. The red and white stripes and blue stars that make up its flag have become one of the most iconic designs and symbols globally and the biggest proponent of American ideals. And while the flag itself is highly iconic, its story is equally interesting. 

This is everything you need to know about the American Flag, where it comes from, and what the different elements actually mean! 

What Is the History of the American Flag? 

Following the declaration of independence of the United States in June and July 1776, many people in the continental congress decided that they needed a flag. They wanted a banner that would stand for what they believed to be the divine goal of their new country — bravery, courage, sacrifice, and purity. 

The first version of the flag was designed by one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, Francis Hopkinson. Francis allowed the stars in the blue corner to be free and open to the preferences of whoever was designing them. However, he suggested that a ring of stars may symbolize a new constellation of the union. This was done to show appreciation for the heavens. 

However, the first flag that was genuinely accepted by the government was the version created by Betsy Ross in the 1790s. There were only 13 states in the union, which meant that the flag only had 13 stars, all arranged in a ring in the blue corner. 

How Does the American Flag Relate to the National Anthem? 

One of the most famous legends concerning the flag surrounds the origin of the national anthem, written by Francis Scott Key. This song was initially a poem written in 1814 when Great Britain attacked Fort McHenry. 

The story goes that Francis Scott Key was imprisoned during the British bombardment of the fort. Critical thought that the fort would be lost all throughout the night, but when the first rays of light of the morning broke through, he saw the old glory of the flag still waving on a mast above the fort. He took this as a sign of hardiness, pure intentions, innocence, and the best qualities of the human spirit. This inspired him to pen the poem that would later become the national anthem. 

Dedication to the flag is also mentioned in the pledge of allegiance, a chant memorized and quoted by people and students throughout the country. 

What Does the American Flag Mean? 

The American flag has three colors: Old Glory Red, Old Glory Blue, and White. The white stars lie in a blue field in the flag’s upper left corner, each star representing a state. While there are many different myths associated with the origin of the colors, the reality is actually much more straightforward. These colors were chosen simply because they were the same colors as the British flag that the people in the United States already knew. 

Following the flag’s design, Charles Thomson (or Charles Thompson, depending on who you ask), who was secretary of the Continental Congress at the time, explained the colors. He said that the red stood for hardiness, the white for purity, and the blue for perseverance. 

The Supreme Court and House of Representatives agreed with this, which makes these color associations the most official meanings of the colors at large. 

How Do New Stars Get Added? 

The first American flag had only thirteen stars instead of the fifty stars that American flags have today. These initial stars stood for Virginia, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. 

Following the first 13 star flag, it was decreed that another star would be added to the flag any time a state was added into the union. This first happened with the admission of Vermont and Kentucky in 1791 and 1792, respectively. After that, many more forms were added to the flag, including Nebraska, Wisconsin, Utah, Alabama, and more. 

While the last star was added in 1959 with the admission of Hawaii into the Union, if any more states are added, they will be represented by new stars in the blue field of the flag. While this seems relatively unlikely in the current world, it is still definitely possible, which means that our current 50-star flags might not be the official flag forever. 


If you want to learn how to use language more powerfully and effectively, feel free to take a look around our blog here at The Word Counter. We’re constantly putting up new articles that can help you enhance your understanding of language and communication as a whole, which can help you live in a much more effective way. 

The Word Counter exists to help make sure that your vocabulary and communication skills are as good as possible so that you can advance in life in the most effective ways possible! If you have any confusion about words or grammar, make sure to check here first — we’ve probably got an article on that!


  1. Flag of the United States of America | Britannica
  2. The American Flag | USAGov
  3. History of the American Flag & American Flag Facts | Drexel Online