American Flag History for Kids

Old Glory Flying High

The American flag is a symbol not just known across America, but recognized around the world. The flag is a symbol of peace and democracy and is affectionately called 'Old Glory' or the 'Stars and Stripes'.

Flag History

Did you know that the flag didn't always have 50 stars on it? The 50 stars represent the 50 states in the United States of America. This flag is the first American flag made, at the time of the American Revolution (the Revolutionary War). At the time, the stars were placed in a circle. On our current 50-star flag, the stars would never fit in a circle!

Confederate Flag

About 100 years after the Revolutionary War came the Civil War. In this time period, the southern states were battling the northern states. Since the south wanted to become separate from the north, they made their own flag, which they called the Confederate flag. Notice that it's still red, white and blue.

British Flag

America was originally a British colony. When America separated from Great Britain (during the Revolutionary War), the United States made its own flag. Notice though that both the British flag and the American flag are made with the colors red, white and blue. Anyone know why these colors were used?

The Red, White and Blue

This is a Dutch flag, one of the many other red, white and blue flags. Most red, white and blue flags are said to have originated from the red, white and blue flag of France.

Red represents courage and revolution. White represents peace. Blue represents freedom and perseverance.

Raising the Flag

An important part of American flag history for kids is learning about the rules that are attached to the American flag. An American flag should never touch the ground, which makes raising and lowering the flag a more difficult process. Girl scouts and boy scouts, among other groups, regularly practice the proper way to raise and lower the American flag.

Flag at Half-Mast

An American flag is flown at half-mast (halfway up the pole instead of at the top of the pole) when there is need to reflect on tragic events. When a tragic event occurs, or a very important person dies, the flag is flown at half-mast.

Just like in raising and lowering the flag, there are special rules to flying the flag at half-mast. When raising the flag to half-mast, the flag must be hoisted all the way to the top of the pole, and then lowered to half-mast. At the end of the day, the flag must be raised to the top of the pole before lowering it and folding it.

Folded Flag

An American flag must be folded every day when it is lowered.

In addition, this triangular folded flag is the military symbol that is given to the family of a fallen soldier. Folding the flag in this manner to present to the soldier's family is a somber ritual including many uniformed, gloved soldiers.

Is it Patriotic to Wear a Flag?

While it may look like the ultimate way to show how patriotic you are, it is actually very much against flag etiquette to wear the American flag. Wearing a flag pin or flag earrings is patriotic, but you should never wrap yourself in a flag. The flag should be flying high, in its place of 'glory'.

The Flag Raising at Iwo Jima

This monument in Washington D.C. depicts the famous flag raising in Iwo Jima. Brush up on your American History to find out more about this symbolic monument. The monument captures a famous still-frame photograph, one of the most well-known war photographs of all time.

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American Flag History for Kids