Flag of the United States
The flag of the United States of America, often referred to as the American flag, is the national flag of the United States. It consists of thirteen equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton (referred to specifically as the "union") bearing fifty small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows, where rows of six stars (top and bottom) alternate with rows of five stars. The 50 stars on the flag represent the 50 states of the United States of America, and the 13 stripes represent the thirteen British colonies that declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, and became the first states in the U.S. Nicknames for the flag include the Stars and Stripes, Old Glory, and the Star-Spangled Banner.
- The star spangled banner bring hither. O'er Columbia's true sons let it wave. May the wreaths they have won never wither. Nor its stars cease to shine on the brave...Thy banners make tyranny tremble when borne by the red, white and blue... Three cheers for the red, white, and blue!
- Thomas á Becket, Sr., "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean" (1843).
- The American flag flies again over our embassy in Kabul. Terrorists who once occupied Afghanistan now occupy cells at Guantanamo Bay. And terrorist leaders who urged followers to sacrifice their lives are running for their own.
- George W. Bush, second state of the union address (29 January 2002).
- American ideals of opportunity and equality come to us across the generations. And they have attracted millions from across the world. Yet there are young Americans growing up here, under this flag, who doubt the promise and justice of our country. They live in neighborhoods occupied by gangs and ruled by fear. They are entitled by law to an education, yet do not receive an education. They hear talk of opportunity and see little evidence of opportunity around them.
- George W. Bush, speech at Parkside Hall (30 April 2002), San Jose, California.
- Boys, I only did my duty; the old flag never touched the ground!
- William Harvey Carney, as quoted in "William Harvey Carney (1840 - 1908)", The Center for African American Genealogical Research, Inc.
- Hurrah! Hurrah! We'll join the jubilee! And that's going some, for the Yankees, by gum! Red, White and Blue, I am for you! Honest, you're a grand old flag! I'm no cranky hanky panky, I'm a dead square, honest Yankee. And I'm mighty proud of that old flag that flies for Uncle Sam. Though I don't believe in raving ev'ry time I see it waving, there's a chill runs up my back that makes me glad I'm what I am. Here's a land with a million soldiers. That's if we should need 'em, We'll fight for freedom! Hurrah! Hurrah! For ev'ry Yankee Tar. And old GAR, every stripe, every star. Red, White and Blue, hats off to you! Honest, you're a grand old flag! You're a grand old flag, You're a high-flying flag, And forever in peace may you wave. You're the emblem of the land I love, The home of the free and the brave. Ev'ry heart beats true 'Neath the Red, White and Blue, Where there's never a boast or brag. But should auld acquaintance be forgot, Keep your eye on the grand old flag.
- George M. Cohan, "You're a Grand Old Flag" (1906).
- Works which endure come from the soul of the people. The mighty in their pride walk alone to destruction. The humble walk hand in hand with providence to immortality. Their works survive... When the people of the colonies were defending their liberties against the might of kings, they chose their banner from the design set in the firmament through all eternity. The flags of great empires of that day have gone, but the stars and stripes remain. It pictures a vision of a people whose eyes are turned to the rising dawn. It represents of the hope of a father for his posterity. It was never flaunted for the glory of royalty, but to be born under it is to be the child of a king, and to establish a home under it is to be the founder of a royal house. Alone of all flags, it expresses the sovereignty of the people which endures when all else passes away. Speaking with their voice, it has the sanctity of revelations. He who lives under it and disloyal to it is a traitor to the human race everywhere. What could be saved if the flag of the American nation were to perish?
- Calvin Coolidge, "America and the War" (1920).
- Uphold the flag; the American flag.
- Frederick Douglass, "What the Black Man Wants" (1865), Boston, Massachusetts.
- If today we have a country not boiling in an agony of blood, like France, if now we have a united country, no longer cursed by the hell-black system of human bondage, if the American name is no longer a by-word and a hissing to a mocking earth, if the star-spangled banner floats only over free American citizens in every quarter of the land, and our country has before it a long and glorious career of justice, liberty, and civilization, we are indebted to the unselfish devotion of the noble army who rest in these honored graves all around us.
- Frederick Douglass, "The Unknown Loyal Dead" (30 May 1871), Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington County, Virginia.
- I've seen through my life many times when people with hate in their heart put fire to the American flag. This time, permit me to go to your flag and, in the name of my people, give it a kiss.
- José Napoleón Duarte, as quoted in "The Honor of Elliott Abrams" (14 February 2019), National Review
- Oh, give us a flag, all free without a slave! We'll fight to defend it, as our fathers did so brave... We'll stand by the Union, if we only have a chance.
- "Give Us A Flag" (author unknown).
- Rally round the flag, boys—
Give it to the breeze!
That's the banner that we bore
On the land and seas.
Brave hearts are under it,
Let the traitors brag,
Gallant lads, fire away!
And fight for the flag.
Their flag is but a rag—
Ours is the true one;
Up with the Stars and Stripes!
with the new one!
Let our colors fly, boys—
Guard them day and night;
For victory is liberty,
And God will bless the right.
- James Thomas Fields, "The Stars and Stripes"; reported in Florence Adams and Elizabeth McCarrick, Highdays & Holidays (1927), pp. 182–83.
- We have seen the white men betray the flag and fight to kill the Union; but in all that long, dreary war we never saw a traitor in a black skin. Our comrades escaping from the starvation of prison, fleeing to our lines by the light of the North star, never feared to enter the black man's cabin and ask for bread. In all that period of suffering and danger, no Union soldier was ever betrayed by a black man or woman. And now that we have made them free, so long as we live we will stand by these black allies. We will stand by them until the sun of liberty, fixed in the firmament of our Constitution, shall shine with equal ray upon every man, black or white, throughout the Union.
- James A. Garfield, address at Madison Square Park (6 August 1880).
- Before that day, the flag had served mostly as a military ensign or a convenient marking of American territory... and displayed on special occasions like the Fourth of July. But in the weeks after Major Anderson's surprising stand, it became something different. Suddenly the Stars and Stripes flew... from houses, from storefronts, from churches; above the village greens and college quads... [T]hat old flag meant something new. The abstraction of the Union cause was transfigured into a physical thing: strips of cloth that millions of people would fight for, and many thousands die for.
- Adam Goodheart, 1861: The Civil War Awakening (2011), Vintage Books. p. 22.
- "Shoot, if you must, this old gray head,
But spare your country's flag," she said.
- John Greenleaf Whittier, Barbara Frietchie
- The flag still stands for freedom, and they can't take that away!
- I remember a rusher; not on a sports team. A rusher who carried an American flag, the regimental flag of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers. It is an attack on the Confederate fort known as Battery Wagner outside of Charleston, south Carolina, in July of 1863. 54th Massachusetts was an all black regiment, one of the first to be recruited after the Emancipation Proclamation. The attack was almost a suicide mission. the regiment swept up to the walls of the fort. penetrated briefly, only to be driven out with heavy losses. the rusher I am thinking of was the color sergeant of the regiment. his name was William H. Carney. He had been born a slave. He was now a free man and a soldier. He brought the stars and stripes off the ramparts of Fort Wagner, despite being wounded in the chest and leg, staggering back under fire to a field hospital, and there, just before he collapsed, he surrendered the flag into the hands of several others there saying, "The old flag never touched the ground, boys!" Before the first of January 1863 when Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation into law, he didn't have a flag, he doesn't have a country. He was a slave; he was an unperson. But in July of 1863, he was a free man. As a free man, there was no symbol to him of greater value than that flag. So you understand that it is difficult for me to understand why people would insult it.
- Allen C. Guelzo, "Free Speech and the First Amendment" (20 November 2017), C-SPAN
- Up with the banner so glorious, the star-spangled red, white, and blue! We'll fight until our banner's victorious!
- Jesse Hutchinson, Jr., "Lincoln and Liberty" (1860).
- Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight. O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming. And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air. Gave proof through the night, that our flag was still there. O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave? O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?
- Francis Scott Key, "Star-Spangled Banner".
- I am invited and called before you to participate in raising above Independence Hall the flag of our country, with an additional star upon it. I propose to say that when that flag was originally raised here it had but thirteen stars... under the blessing of God, each additional star added to that flag has given additional prosperity and happiness to this country until it has advanced to its present condition; and its welfare in the future, as well as in the past, is in your hands... I think we may promise ourselves that not only the new star placed upon that flag shall be permitted to remain there to our permanent prosperity for years to come, but additional ones shall from time to time be placed there.
- Abraham Lincoln, speech (22 February 1861)
- It is worthy of note that while in this the Government's hour of trial large numbers of those in the Army and Navy who have been favored with the offices have resigned and proved false to the hand which had pampered them, not one common soldier or common sailor is known to have deserted his flag.
- Abraham Lincoln, July 4th message to Congress (4 July 1861)
- [S]tand fast to the Union and the old flag.
- Abraham Lincoln, speech to One Hundred Forty-eighth Ohio Regiment, Washington, D.C. (31 August 1864); as quoted in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953) by Roy P. Basler, vol. 7, p. 528-529
- Civilians are only morally bound to salute our flag. We are legally bound. All Americans are morally bound to die for our flag, if called upon. Only we are legally bound. Only we live our lives in a day to day readiness for that sacrifice. We have sworn our oaths and cut our ties. We have given up wealth and home life, except as San Pablo is our home. It marks us. It sets us apart. We are uncomfortable reminders, in time of peace. Those of you who served in the last war know what I mean.
- Richard McKenna, The Sand Pebbles (1962), Ch. 5; speech of Lt. Collins.
- It is said there will be no more war. We must pretend to believe that. But when war comes, it is we who will take the first shock and buy time with our lives. It is we who keep the faith. We are not honored for it. We are called mercenaries on the outposts of empire. … We serve the flag. The trade we follow is the give and take of death. It is for that purpose the American people maintain us. Any one of us who believes he has a job like any other, for which he draws a money wage, is a thief of the food he eats and a trespasser in the bunk in which he lies down to sleep!
- Richard McKenna, The Sand Pebbles (1962), Ch. 5; speech of Lt. Collins.
- The American flag has not been planted on foreign soil to acquire more territory but for humanity's sake.
- William McKinley, speech (12 July 1900).
- I have never seen anyone burn a flag. And if I did, it would take every ounce of restraint I had not to haul off and hit them.
- Barack Obama, as quoted in "The Constitution, Designed to Change, Rarely Does" (4 December 2008), by Jennifer S. Forsyth, The Wall Street Journal.
- I'm a Marine. I don't need to fly a little flag on my car to show I'm patriotic.
- Josh Ray Person, as quoted in Generation Kill (2003), by Evan Wright, p. 68.
- I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
- He did not say a monument to what, but he meant, I am sure, to leave it as a monument to the loyalty of our soldiers, who would bear all the horrors of Libby sooner than desert their flag and cause. We struggled on, the great crowd preceding us, and an equally dense crowd of blacks following on behind all so packed together that some of them frequently sang out in pain.
- David Dixon Porter, Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War (1885), p. 299.
- I love our flag, our Constitution and our country with a love that has no bounds. I defended all three for 35 years as a soldier and was willing to give my life in their defense. Americans revere their flag as a symbol of the Nation. Indeed, it is because of that reverence that the amendment is under consideration. Few countries in the world would think of amending their Constitution for the purpose of protecting such a symbol. We are rightfully outraged when anyone attacks or desecrates our flag. Few Americans do such things and when they do they are subject to the rightful condemnation of their fellow citizens. They may be destroying a piece of cloth, but they do no damage to our system of freedom which tolerates such desecration. If they are destroying a flag that belongs to someone else, that's a prosecutable crime. If it is a flag they own, I really don't want to amend the Constitution to prosecute someone for foolishly desecrating their own property. We should condemn them and pity them instead. I understand how strongly so many of my fellow veterans and citizens feel about the flag and I understand the powerful sentiment in state legislatures for such an amendment. I feel the same sense of outrage. But I step back from amending the Constitution to relieve that outrage. The First Amendment exists to insure that freedom of speech and expression applies not just to that with which we agree or disagree, but also that which we find outrageous. I would not amend that great shield of democracy to hammer a few miscreants. The flag will be flying proudly long after they have slunk away. Finally, I shudder to think of the legal morass we will create trying to implement the body of law that will emerge from such an amendment. If I were a member of Congress, I would not vote for the proposed amendment and would fully understand and respect the views of those who would. For or against, we all love our flag with equal devotion.
- Colin Powell, letter to Patrick Leahy (18 May 1999).
- [M]any college campuses do not have an American flag on their campus because some students regard it as 'offensive'; representing imperialism and capitalism.
- Dennis Prager, "A Dark Time in America" (3 May 2016), National Review.
- When the thirteen stripes and stars first appeared at Canton, much curiosity was excited among the people. News was circulated that a strange ship had arrived from the further end of the world, bearing a flag 'as beautiful as a flower'. Every body went to see the kwa kee chuen, or 'flower flagship'. This name at once established itself in the language, and America is now called the kwa kee kwoh, the 'flower flag country', and an American, kwa kee kwoh yin, 'flower flag countryman', a more complimentary designation than that of 'red headed barbarian', the name first bestowed upon the Dutch.
- George Henry Preble, Our Flag: Origin and Progress of the Flag of the United States of America (1872), Albany: Joel Munsell, p. 217.
- Oh, we'll rally round the flag. Boys, we'll rally once again. Shouting the battle cry of freedom. We'll rally from the hillside, we'll gather from the plain. Shouting the battle cry of freedom. The Union forever! Hurrah, boys! Hurrah! Down with the traitor, and up with the star! And we'll rally round the flag, boys. We'll rally once again, shouting the battle cry of freedom!
- George Frederick Root, "Battle Cry of Freedom" (1862).
- The Confederacy sought to overthrow our constitutional government. When the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, they were not merely firing at 'Federals' or the Union army. They were firing at the United States Army and the U.S. flag.
- Frank Scaturro, "The Confederate Flag Debate is Revising our Revisionist History" (14 July 2015), Washington Examiner
- Communists sentenced my father's father to ten years hard labor for having a small American flag in his possession (by that time he had been a leader of the social democrats for some years). At his "trial" he was asked why he had the flag. Was he a spy? He replied that it represented freedom better than any other symbol he knew, and that he had a right to have it.
- Peter W. Schramm, "Born American, But in the Wrong Place" (5 October 2006), Claremont Review of Books
- Other nations may deem their flags the best and cheer them with fervid elation. But the flag of the North and South and West is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom's nation. Hurrah for the flag of the free! May it wave as our standard forever. The gem of the land and the sea. The banner of the right. Let despots remember the day. When our fathers with mighty endeavor. Proclaimed as they marched to the fray. That by their might and by their right. It waves forever.
- [T]he now infamous banner of the Yankee vandals.
- William Tappan Thompson, Savannah Morning News (23 April 1863), as quoted in History of the Flag of the United States of America (1882), by George Henry Preble, p. 528.
- It is time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American Flag.
- Donald Trump, 2017 Inauguration Address
- Oh, may our stars and stripes still wave forever o'er the free and brave!
- Yes and there were Union men who wept with joyful tears when they saw the honored flag they had not seen for years... Hurrah, hurrah! We bring the jubilee! Hurrah, hurrah! The flag that makes you free!
- Henry Clay Work, "Marching Through Georgia" (1865).
- Encyclopedic article on Flag of the United States on Wikipedia
- Media related to Flags of the United States on Wikimedia Commons