On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed an act establishing an official flag for the new nation. The resolution ordered that "the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation." On August 3, 1949, President Harry S Truman commemorated the occasion by officially declaring June 14 as Flag Day.
Between 1777 and 1960, Congress passed several acts that changed the shape, design and arrangement of the flag and allowed stars and stripes to be added to reflect the admission of each new state.
Today the flag consists of 13 horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with six white. The stripes represent the original 13 colonies; the stars represent the 50 states of the Union. Yes, there are 50 states in the United States! The colors of the flag are symbolic as well, red symbolizes hardiness and valor, white symbolizes purity and innocence and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.
Amateur poet Francis Scott Key was so inspired by the sight of the American flag still flying over Baltimore's Fort McHenry after a British bombardment that he wrote the "Star-Spangled Banner" on September 14, 1814. It officially became our national anthem in 1931.
In 1892, the flag inspired James B. Upham and Francis Bellamy to write the "Pledge of Allegiance." It was first published in a magazine called The Youth's Companion.