News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

American Flag facts

Our first U.S. flag, also called the Betsy Ross flag, had six white stripes, seven red stripes, and 13 stars in a circle in the (Union) blue upper left corner of the flag - all to represent the original 13 Colonies. Requested by then Commander of the Continental Army, Gen. George Washington, it was completed in June 1776.

Red Stripes stood for Valor, Courage, and Bravery.

White Stripes stood for Purity and Innocence.

Blue stood for Vigilance.

The last edition of our U.S. Flag Code was published in 1989. Flag etiquette within the code is now managed through tradition, not by law. The most understood and accepted version still clearly states that respect is most important.

• Flag should never touch anything beneath it.

• Flag should never be used for wearing apparel, etc.

• Torn, frayed, dirty, or damaged flags should not be used and should be destroyed in a dignified manner.

• Active or retired military Veterans or Boy Scouts may perform the act of flag destruction by burning. To be done in a respectful manner.

• In the presence of other flags, the U.S. flag should always be the highest.

• The flag should always be allowed to blow or fall freely.

• At meetings, the flag should always be placed at the left of the audience.

• The (blue) Union stars should always be displayed at the upper left of the flag.

• A flag flown at half-staff is to honor or acknowledge someone's death.

• A flag that is raised upside-down is a signal of distress or extreme danger.

The next time an American flag passes you by, say at a parade, you may see citizens with their hands over their hearts. You may also see people rendering a hand salute, which is being done by past or present military Veterans. This is one of the simplest ways of showing respect to our country's flag.

Earl Schroeder served in the United States Air Force.


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