American Flag’s History

The American Flag’s journey presumably started in May 1776 when George Washington and members of the Continental Congress walked into an old upholstery shop with simply a rough design. The seamstress, Betsy Ross, a long time acquaintance of George Washington brought Washington’s design to life with only a slight modification of the original design. Washington’s original thoughts of using a six- pointed star were dismissed as Ross’s thoughts of a five -pointed star being much easier to sew. Unfortunately, these events are unverifiable but many historians believe this is where the story of the American Flag begins. This version of events was made popular in 1870 when Ross’s grandson, William Canby, gave a speech at the Philadelphia Historical Society boasting of his grandmother’s role in U.S history. Betsy Ross was a well -known flag maker for the Navy of Pennsylvania. The first official flag was approved by the Continental Congress in 1777.

The official flag contained thirteen stars representing the thirteen colonies. Many believe that this design was created by Francis Hopkinson, a member of the Continental Congress. After admitting Vermont and Kentucky into the Union, two more stars and two more stripes were added in 1795. This flag was known as “star spangled banner” and inspired our national anthem to be written. After five more states gained admittance Congress required the number of stars is equal to the number of states. In 1960 when Hawaii became a state, the last star was added making the final count fifty. This is the flag that we fly today. The colors of the flag also have meaning. White signifies innocence, blue signifies perseverance and justice and red signifying hardiness and valor. The gold trim has no significant meaning and is generally used on ceremonial indoor flags that are used for special services. The fringe does not appear to be an integral part of the flag. Our flag is also worn on the uniform of the U.S Armed forces. When worn in the appropriate manner the flag is facing to the observer’s right and creates the effect of the flag waving in the breeze as the wearer moves forward.

Defining Patriotism


The great Scottish author and surgeon Tobias George Smollett (1721-1771) once used his fictional character Sir Launcelot Greaves to opine: “True patriotism is of no party.”

Today, in a geopolitical landscape littered with partisan causes and sometimes intense party factionalism, keeping that idealistic principle in mind sometimes appears elusive. Yet the power of patriotism to transcend mundane politics probably distinguishes this feature of a free society more than many other aspects of contemporary life. Patriots act in the best interest of their fellow citizens as a whole, without worrying about ideological differences, conflicting philosophical principles, power bases or public relations.

Patriots in Historical Context

Using this broad definition, individuals as different from one another as the wealthy Virginia landowner George Washington or the humble country lawyer Abraham Lincoln might both qualify as U. S. patriots. Despite their differences, they possessed the ability to cross political divides and extend a hand of friendship to people who disagreed with them, sometimes very sharply. Whether one agrees with all of their decisions or not, the fact remains they did consider the importance of the entire nation in formulating policies during times of crisis. Their innate love of country remains an important aspect of this nationalism.

Defining Patriotism in an Era of Globalism

As the world proceeds towards increasing global ties, with much shorter international distances separating people from different societies and as the cost of warfare rises in terms of immense military destructive capabilities, possibly the definition of patriotism itself must soon expand to encompass a broader, more embracingly human, dimension. Defining those limits remains a huge challenge.

The Patriots of the Colonial Era worked to create a sense of common, shared destiny among people in distant British colonies in North America; those regions often differed widely in their local concerns and prevailing points of view. Today respecting patriotism in the face of international challenges sometimes requires difficult choices. People today belong to a multitude of countries, and frequently the interests of one nation conflict directly with those of another.


Until everyone develops greater respect for the value of humanity as a whole, including people from different ethnic, racial, religious, socioeconomic and cultural traditions, the world may experience ongoing challenges defining a truly comprehensive patriotism. The attributes of nationalism function as an immune system, protecting the global environment from a chaotic lack of structure. Nationhood permits gradual global patriotism.