What Do Americans Really Think About the U.S. Flag?
What Do Americans Think of the American Flag?

What Do Americans Think of the American Flag?

The American flag is a patriotic symbol that’s officially been in use since 1777. It’s a symbol that often causes Americans to pause and reflect on what it means to be a citizen of this great country. However, the flag of the United States of America doesn’t mean the same thing for every individual. And, as Americans, we’re allowed to have our individual views and express our personal viewpoints.

So, what do Americans think of the American flag? Here’s a look at some of the sentiments surrounding the flag and how people tend to think about it.

72% of Americans say the flag makes them feel proud

In a recent study conducted by YouGov, 72% of Americans in the survey say that the American flag makes them feel proud. This is a powerful statement about one of the most symbolic images in American history. In looking at the flag and feeling pride, it shows that people are still inspired by the stars and stripes, and all that they stand for.

The American flag isn’t always associated with a political party

In the same study by YouGov, poll creators asked participants whether they felt the American flag was associated with a political party. The majority of the participants, 34%, felt the American flag wasn’t affiliated with one party over another. As for those who felt the US flag had a political party affiliation, 31% felt it was associated with Republicans, while 18% of participants associated the American flag with Democrats. 

More people flew the American flag this year

Another survey, this one conducted by CBS News, found that a greater number of Americans would fly the American flag this Fourth of July than last year (2020). In fact, 63% of people in the poll said they would fly the American flag on Independence Day and 33%, as opposed to those who wouldn’t. In 2020, 53% of polled individuals said they would fly the American flag on the Fourth of July. That’s a substantial increase, likely due to the patriotism inspired by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The American flag is a symbol of patriotism

Participants were asked in the YouGov survey what term comes to mind when they see people display the American flag. 62% said the term patriotic comes to mind. The American flag is flown to show patriotism and love for this country. As Americans, we have the right to view the US flag as we wish. For us, the American flag is a symbol of patriotism, honor, and respect for this country.

Explore Some Flag Fun Facts

It’s clear that people feel a strong connection to the American flag and all the sentiment that comes with it. But how much do you really know about Old Glory? In an effort to shed light on the history of our iconic spangled banner, here are a few things you might not have known about the stars and stripes.

The flag was adopted in 1777

This is one of the most basic flag facts that every American, trivia fan or not, should have memorized. Congress officially adopted the red, white, and blue as the American flag on June 14th, 1777. The original version displayed 13 stripes and 13 stars to represent the 13 original colonies of our nation. It marks the formalization of the flag in American history: the first time we, as a country, established a brand.

The flag once had more than 13 stripes

While the 13 stripes on the flag are the standard we think of for the American flag, a fun fact is that at one point it had more stripes. When Vermont and Kentucky joined the union, the flag was ratified to add two additional stripes to represent these new states, but there was a concern about the dimensions of the flag if the nation inevitably continued to grow in terms of states. The flag was reverted back to 13 stripes and the system of adding a new star for every new state was put in place instead.

A high school student created the current version

The stars on the flag have been arranged in a variety of patterns over the course of our history—including as a circle and eventually, a star pattern. When Alaska and Hawaii joined the union as states 49 and 50, President Eisenhower signed a version of the flag into effect which was designed by Robert G. Heft, a 17-year-old Ohio high-schooler. His design is still the official lineup for the stars, featuring five rows of six stars and four rows of five stars.

There are five American flags on the moon

Did you know that American astronauts have planted six flags on the surface of the moon? The first flag—planted by Neil Armstrong during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969—is the only one of the six which no longer stands. It was blown over by the ship as it departed! While the other flags are still there (according to satellite imagery), they’re now unrecognizable. Moon conditions have bleached the flags so the red, white and blue are hardly visible.

The History of Different Flag Designs

It’s impossible to have a true appreciation for the current flag design without looking back at the previous iterations that came before it. As America grew to add states and triumph over adversity, the symbol of our nation changed. Here’s a look at some of the most iconic versions.

The Betsy Ross Flag

When looking at early flag designs, the most common is the Betsy Ross image. This flag has the red and white stripes and blue field we are used to, but the stars are all arranged in a circle. While it has been debated if Betsy Ross really did create this design as the first American flag, it is still a beloved symbol and is commonly replicated today for collectors.

13 Star Colonies

This flag has the red and white stripes with the blue field and the stars lined up accordingly, but there are only 13 stars. This is a symbol of the first 13 colonies. If you happen to own an original version of this flag, you’re in luck: it’s a major collector's item, worth a large sum of money depending on its condition. Be warned, though: there are many modern-day replicas of this flag that aren’t worth nearly as much—they’re just neat to own.

Star Spangled 15 Star

Another one of the different flag designs that is still popular today is the 15-star flag—also called the Star-Spangled design. This was the last flag where stripes were added based on a new state which is why it has 15 stars and 15 stripes. It was created circa 1791 as the United States began to ratify new states. It quickly became apparent that adding more stars was the best way to include new territories, so the stripes were capped at 13. The 15-star flag was the first step toward our modern stars and stripes.

13 Stripes and Various Stars

The flag was changed to have 13 stripes in 1818 with no new stripes to be added when new states achieved statehood. Since adding a new stripe for each state would make the flag unwieldy in size, the 13 stripes would become the acceptable norm still to this day. The stars would go on to change with every state achieving statehood. There are flags with a range of stars on them still in existence today. These are more common, and it’s not difficult to find 48-star flags as recent as the 1950s.

The Flag is a Symbol of Our History

No matter how you feel about the American flag or how good your trivia knowledge is, what’s important is that everyone understands its significance as a piece of our history. The flag has been an evolving symbol of our country for more than 200 years: something we can look upon with pride and know that it represents our home.

The most amazing thing about the flag? It’s changed so much over the last 200 years, and there’s a good chance it’s still not done. There might still come a day when we gaze upon a flag with more than 50 stars! Regardless, it’ll still represent the country we love and cherish, and all the people who live in it.

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