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Flag Facts

FLAG PRESENTATION

Presentation of the flag during a ceremony should be preceded by a brief talk emphasizing the importance of the occasion. Following the presentation all present should salute the flag, recite the pledge of allegiance, and sing the national anthem.

FOLDING THE FLAG

  1. Two persons, facing each other, hold the flag waist high and horizontally between them.
  2. The lower striped section is folded, lengthwise, over the blue field. Hold bottom to top and edges together securely.
  3. Fold the flag again, lengthwise, folded edge to open edge.
  4. A triangular fold is started along the length of the flag, from the end to the heading by bringing the striped corner of the folded edge to meet the open edge.
  5. The outer point is turned inward parallel with the open edge, forming a second triangle.
  6. Repeat the triangular folding until the entire length of the flag is folded.
  7. When the flag is completely folded only the triangular blue field should be visible.

CARE OF YOUR FLAG

The life of your flag depends on your care. Dirt can cut fabrics, dull colors, and cause wear. Most outdoor flags can be washed in mild detergent and thoroughly rinsed. Indoor and parade flags should be dry-cleaned. Many dry cleaners offer free cleaning of U.S. flags during the months of June and July. Damaged flags can be repaired and utilized as long as the overall dimensions are not noticeably altered. American Legion Posts and local governments often have facilities to dispose of unserviceable flags. Store your flags in a well ventilated area away from any harsh chemicals or cleaning compounds. If your flag gets wet, never store it until it is completely dry. Wet folds cause permanent creases. Dampness ruins fabric and causes mildew. Pole care is also related to flag care. Rust and scale cause permanent stains and some metallic oxides actually eat holes in fabric.

SIZES OF FLAGS

The size of the flag is determined by the exposed height of the flagpole from which it is flying. The only consideration is for the flag to be in proper proportion to its pole. Flags which fly from angled poles on homes and those which are displayed on standing poles in offices and other indoor displays are usually either 3' x 5' or 4' x 6'. Color guards usually carry flags measuring 4' x 6'. Other recommended sizes are shown in the following table:

Flagpole Height (ft.)Flag Size (ft.)
204 x 6
255 x 8
406 x 10
508 x 12
6010 x 15
7012 x 18
9015 x 25
12520 x 30
20030 x 40
25040 x 50

FLAG DAY

Each year on June 14, we celebrate the birthday of the Stars and Stripes, which came into being on June 14, 1777. At that time, the Second Continental Congress authorized a new flag to symbolize the new Nation, the United States of America.

The Stars and Stripes first flew in a Flag Day celebration in Hartford, Connecticut in 1861, during the first summer of the Civil War. The first national observance of Flag Day occurred June 14, 1877, the centennial of the original flag resolution.

By the mid 1890's the observance of Flag Day on June 14 was a popular event. Mayors and governors began to issue proclamations in their jurisdictions to celebrate this event.

In the years to follow, public sentiment for a national Flag Day observance greatly intensified. Numerous patriotic societies and veterans groups became identified with the Flag Day movement. Since their main objective was to stimulate patriotism among the young, schools were the first to become involved in flag activities.

In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling for a nationwide observance of Flag Day on June 14. It was not until 1949 that Congress made this day a permanent observance by resolving "That the 14th day of June of each year is hereby designated as Flag Day . The measure was signed into law by President Harry Truman.

Although Flag Day is not celebrated as a Federal holiday, Americans everywhere continue to honor the history and heritage it represents

THE HISTORY OF THE STARS AND STRIPES

The Stars and Stripes originated as a result of a resolution adopted by the Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress at Philadelphia on June 14, 1777. The resolution read:

"Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation. "

The resolution gave no instruction as to how many points the stars should have, nor how the stars should be arranged on the blue union. Consequently, some flags had stars scattered on the blue field without any specific design, some arranged the stars in rows, and some in a circle. The first Navy Stars and Stripes had the stars arranged in staggered formation in alternate rows of threes and twos on a blue field. Other Stars and Stripes flags had stars arranged in alternate rows of four, five and four. Some stars had six points while others had eight.

Strong evidence indicates that Francis Hopkinson of New Jersey, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was responsible for the stars in the U.S. flag. At the time that the flag resolution was adopted, Hopkinson was the Chairman of the Continental Navy Board's Middle Department. Hopkinson also helped design other devices for the Government including the Great Seal of the United States. For his services, Hopkinson submitted a letter to the Continental Admiralty Board asking "whether a Quarter Cask of the public Wine will not be a proper & reasonable Reward for these Labours of Fancy and a suitable Encouragement to future Exertions of a like Nature." His request was turned down since the Congress regarded him as a public servant.

HISTORICAL FLAGS

 

Fort Moultrie flag.

FORT MOULTRIE

South Carolinians defending Fort Moultrie in Charleston Harbor in 1776 raised one of the earliest flags of American liberty. The silver crescent appeared as a badge worn on their caps. The cause for which they fought-liberty-was emblazoned on the crescent.

Green Mountain Boys flag.

GREEN MOUNTAIN BOYS

General John Stark of New Hampshire commanded a militia brigade known as the "Green Mountain Boys.' Tradition relates that its green flag was flown at the Battle of Bennington on August 16, 1777. As in many American flags, the stars here were arranged in an arbitrary fashion. Nevertheless they signified the unity of the Thirteen Colonies in their struggle for independence.

 

Rhode Island Regiment flag.

RHODE ISLAND REGIMENT

The State flags of America found their earliest forms during the Revolutionary War. The starry canton in the flag of the Rhode Island Regiment symbolized national unity, but the white field corresponded to the uniform of the State troops. The anchor symbol and motto which completed the design had been used for more than a century. The original flag may be found in the State House in Providence.

 

Commodore Perry's flag.

COMMODORE PERRY'S FLAG

During the War of 1812 Captain James Lawrence of the Chesapeake encouraged his men, as he lay dying by exhorting "Don't Give Up the Ship." Three months later at the Battle of Lake Erie, Commodore Perry emblazoned these words on a flag which carried him to victory. Similar flags and mottoes have inspired Americans throughout our two centuries of existence.

Bennington flag.

BENNINGTON FLAG

Originally believed to have been carried during the Revolution, this flag is now seen as having probably been made for the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 1826. Its design is typical of the exuberant artistic expressions found in flags of the 19th century.

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE TO THE FLAG

"I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND TO THE REPUBLIC FOR WHICH IT STANDS, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, INDIVISIBLE, WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL."

The Pledge of Allegiance received official recognition by Congress in an Act approved on June 22, 1942. However, the pledge was first published in 1892 in the Youth's Companion magazine in Boston, Massachusetts to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America, and was first used in public schools to celebrate Columbus Day on October 12, 1892.

In its original version, the pledge read "my flag" instead of "the flag of the United States." the change in the wording was adopted by the National Flag Conference in 1923. The rationale for the change was that it prevented ambiguity among foreign-born children and adults who might have the flag of their native land in mind when reciting the pledge.

The phrase "under God" was added to the pledge by a Congressional act approved on June 14, 1954. At that time, President Eisenhower said:

"in this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource in peace and war."


Cavalry Guidon flag.

CAVALRY GUIDON

During the Civil War a special version of the United States flag-with swallowtail and stars of gold instead of white-was carried by the cavalry. General Custer and others used the flag in succeeding decades in the West.

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