When you have your flag pole installation performed, you’ll be flying an American flag at the top of it. While you might also be flying the North Dakota state flag and/or a POW/MIA flag, the American flag will always be at the top in order to show it the most respect. We hope the flags you’re flying are also flags made in the USA so that you’re supporting American businesses.

So what do you call the flag at the top? The most common term for it is the American flag, followed by names such as “U.S. Flag,” “the flag of the United States,” or “the flag of the USA.” And while all of those are perfectly fine, there’s not much of a story behind them. The United States of America has quite a few variations on the name and abbreviations, so all of those flag names make sense. 

So with as many ways as there are to refer to America, it only makes sense that the flag would also be known by many names. Heck, it’s been modified 26 times since it was first created, and the ones we sell are the 27th iteration! So when you raise the flag after your flag pole installation here in North Dakota, how will you refer to it? Let’s take a look at some of the more popular options.

The Red, White, and Blue

There’s an old joke that, if you’re trying to discover a foreign spy, you should ask him the colors of the US flag. If he lists the colors in any other order than “red, white, blue,” you’ve caught him!

But did you know that those three colors aren’t specific enough? The three colors are officially Old Glory Red, Old Glory Blue, and White, and weren’t actually standardized until 1934 when color processes were exact enough to get accurate representations every time. 

What do the colors of the flag mean? You might be surprised to know that the three colors of the flag officially have no specific meaning. However, the meaning ascribed to the red, white, and blue of the Great Seal (1782) did have meaning and are often transferred to the flag. The white signifies purity and innocence, the red signifies hardiness and valor, and the blue signifies vigilance, perseverance, and justice. 

If there’s no direct meaning for each color, then where did they come from? The pre-America colonies, of course, because that flag was made up of the Continental Colors, aka Grand Union Flag. And when you see that flag, it’s obvious that the original red, white, and blue came from Great Britain’s Union Jack. 

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The Stars and Stripes

When the flag was officially adopted in 1777, it was kind of redundant. After all, it had 13 stars to represent each of the 13 original colonies, and 13 stripes to represent…well, the 13 original colonies! 

So the US flag has always had both stars and stripes. While the stripes have never changed — a tribute to the original 13 colonies — the number of stars has been in constant change over the centuries as new states were added to the Union. There have been multiple instances where the design of the flag lasted only a year before it had to be changed again. The current flag is the longest the American flag has ever gone without a change; we’ve been flying the same flag since Hawaii became a state in 1960, which means the modern flag has been current for 59 years.

Old Glory

You might call your flag Old Glory, but did you know that there was an original Old Glory? Officially, Old Glory refers to an American flag flowing by American sea captain William Driver. When Driver became a master mariner, his mother sewed him an American flag to fly on his ships. He flew this 17-foot by 10-foot flag on his trips around the world and became convinced that God had saved him from hardships that had sunk other vessels. Driver wrote, “It has ever been my staunch companion and protection. Savages and heathens, lowly and oppressed, hailed and welcomed it at the far end of the wide world. Then, why should it not be called Old Glory?”

Driver moved to Tennessee and would often fly the flag. His house was divided in the Civil War, as he was a Unionist and two of his sons enlisted in the Confederate Army. Since Driver was known for flying his large flag, Confederates came and demanded the flag after Tennessee seceded. Driver reportedly refused them entry and demanded they produce a search warrant, saying, “If you want my flag you’ll have to take it over my dead body.” 

Driver, with the help of neighbors, hid Old Glory in a bed covering for over a year until Nashville fell to the union. When Driver saw the American flag flying at the state capitol, he took Old Glory to the Union commander, who promptly raised it on the capitol flagpole. When the Confederates tried to retake Nashville two years later, D

Nine years later, Driver gave Old Glory to his daughter. He lived for 13 more years before dying in 1886. The story of Old Glory got around, and infighting started within Driver’s family over the ownership. Driver’s daughter sent Old Glory to President Warren G. Harding in 1922, and he turned it over to the Smithsonian.

The Star-Spangled Banner

While you might not have known there was an original Old Glory, no doubt you knew that the Star-Spangled Banner existed as an actual flag. Major George Armistead commissioned this flag, also known as the Great Garrison Flag, to fly above Baltimore. Baltimore was one of the most likely targets of the British, and Armistead wanted “a flag so large that the British would have no difficulty seeing it from a distance.” At the time, the 30-foot by 42-foot flag was the largest flag ever flown in battle. (Interestingly, we sell made in America flags for commercial flagpoles that are even larger, at 30-foot by 60-foot.)

The flag flew over Fort McHenry between September 12-14, 1814. By the morning of the 14th, it was obvious that the Fort was still in American hands. This revelation inspired the Francis Scott Key poem that would eventually become the words for the US national anthem.

Before the flag became such an important part of American history, cuttings were taken from its fly end and given as souvenirs. In fact, the original flag had 15 stars but now only has 14, as one star was given away as a gift and is currently lost to history. The flag was given to the Smithsonian in 1912; you can see the restored flag on display in the National Museum of American History. 

We’ll Help You Fly Your American Flag!

No matter what you call your flag, we’ll perform your custom flagpole installation in North Dakota to make sure it flies proudly in the wind. Click here to find the American-made flag that’s right for you!