It’s almost the time of year when the American flag is flown most proudly, and that has us thinking about some fun facts about our beloved star-spangled banner and flag-flying in general.
You might be surprised by how many interesting facts there are about it, so we collected some for you here. Keep your favorites in your back pocket and pull them out at the 4th of July barbecue to impress your friends — or at least give them something to think about while their burger finishes grilling.
You’d think that the study of it would be called something like flagology or maybe bannerology, right? Well, it’s not. It’s called vexillology, and it’s a larger area of study than you might think.
The name is derived from the Latin term for it, vexillum. A vexillologist is a term used to describe not only scholars of everything flag-related, but also all-around its enthusiasts.
The colors of it are rarely chosen just because they’re pretty or fun. They’re more often meant to represent a significant aspect of a country or group’s history or belief system. For example, white on a flag often symbolizes peace, while red might symbolize the bloodshed and sacrifice made to fly it.
Interestingly enough, purple is almost never found on a country’s flag. Only those of Nicaragua and Dominica include the color, and even then purple appears only in tiny amounts. This isn’t because of the symbolic meaning of the color purple, though. It’s actually because the purple dye has historically been rare and expensive.
There have been 27 different American flag designs over the years, with new stars added each time another state became part of the U.S. Our current flag bears 50 stars, and it was designed by Robert G. Heft of Lancaster, Ohio.
Heft was a 17-year-old student in 1958 when he created it for a class project. His teacher originally gave him a B-, but Heft convinced him to change the grade if he won a contest held by Congress to find a new design. Heft’s design was selected by President Eisenhower out of 1,500 other entries, and his grade rose to an A.
If you need something red, white, and blue to wave this 4th of July, contact Elmer’s Flag or check out our online selection of American flags today.