On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed an act establishing an official flag for the new nation. The resolution ordered that "the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation." On August 3, 1949, President Harry S Truman commemorated the occasion by officially declaring June 14 as Flag Day.
•While no one knows the exact origin of the first American flag, some historians believe it was designed by Congressman Francis Hopkinson and sewn by Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross.
•Between 1777 and 1960, Congress passed several acts that changed the shape, design and arrangement of the flag and allowed stars and stripes to be added to reflect the admission of each new state.
•Today the flag consists of 13 horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with six white. The stripes represent the original 13 colonies, the stars represent the 50 states of the Union. The colors of the flag are symbolic as well, red symbolizes hardiness and valor, white symbolizes purity and innocence and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.
•The National Museum of American History has undertaken a long-term conservation project of the enormous 1814 garrison flag that survived the 25-hour shelling of Ft. McHenry in Baltimore by British troops and inspired Francis Scott Key to compose "The Star-Spangled Banner." The flag had become soiled and weakened over time and was removed from the museum in December 1998. Conservation efforts began in June 1999, starting with the removal of the linen support backing that was sewn into place in 1914 using 1.7 million stitches. Painstaking steps must be taken to preserve the flag, including pH readings to measure the levels of acid or base in the fabric, color readings to analyze dyes in the fabric and fiber analysis through microscopic examination. A thorough vacuuming of all surfaces and large-format photographing of every section of the flag to benchmark its condition must also occur before conservation measures are undertaken.
•The U.S. flag is flown 24 hours a day by either Presidential proclamation or law at the following places:
Fort McHenry, National Monument and Historic Shrine, Baltimore, Maryland
Flag House Square, Baltimore, Maryland
United States Marine Corps Memorial (Iwo Jima), Arlington, Virginia
On the Green of the Town of Lexington, Massachusetts
The White House, Washington, D.C.
United States Customs Ports of Entry
Grounds of the National Memorial Arch in Valley Forge State Park, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania