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Flag Myths

American people lover their flag, and that is very obvious. American flags are displayed at numerous events, such as sports games, concerts, and so on. Of course, people display them in front of their homes, on their cars, and so on. Schoolchildren pledge allegiance to it, it is mentioned in the national anthem, it has a holiday, on June 14, and it is proudly displayed during 4th of July.

There are numerous myths and misinterpretations related to the American flag, and more information about them will be presented in what follows.

Colors of the Flag

It is said that the colors of the flag represent sacrifice, but this has not been proven. No official act or document mentions the reason why the flag is red white and blue, and the meaning behind the colors is unknown. Charles Thomson, the secretary of the Continental Congress, one of the men involved in the creation of Great Seal of the United States, mentioned some words about the color of the flag.

His words appear in a report from June 20, 1782, the day when the seal was approved. According to the report, red symbolizes valor and hardiness, white symbolizes purity and innocence, and blue symbolizes justice and vigilance. It seems that these words were satisfactory for the majority of the people, as presidents such as Ronald Reagan acknowledged them. However, according to the historians, there is no official evidence to prove that this was the reason why these colors were chosen.

Historians believe that the reason why these colors were chosen was because the Continental Colors, the flag of the colonists, had the same colors. The reason why the colonists chose those colors came from the Union Jack of the United Kingdom.

Who made the first flag?

It is believed that Betsy Ross was the one who made the first American flag. However, just like in the case of the colors, there is no official evidence whatsoever to back up this claim. It is believed that Elizabeth Claypoole, now knows as Ross, participated in the creation of the first American flag. The story started in 1870, when William Canby, one of Ross’ grandsons stated that Betsy made the flag at George Washington’s request. He even provided a painting as evidence, which depicted Betsy with the flag in her lap.

However, it seems that Charles H. Weisberger, the artist who made the painting wanted to trick people and make money. It is certain that Ross made flags in the 1770s, but it is most likely that she did not make the first flag.

It is also believed that it is illegal to burn the American flag, and that the ones who do it will be severely persecuted. That was true, up to 1989, when the Supreme Court decided that burning the flag is legal, as it is protected by the First Amendment, being considered a form of symbolic speech. It started when Gregory Lee Johnson, a member of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade burned an American flag in 1984 during a protest. He was sentenced to a year in prison, and he received a fine of $2,000. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals decided that he had the right, so 5 years later, burning of the flag was made legal.

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