Flag Day 2017: How the American Flag Pattern Took Over


When Flag Day arrives on Wednesday, the day will mark precisely 240 years since the Continental Congress approved the stars and stripes design of the American flag and adopted it as a national symbol, on June 14, 1777. The “thirteen stripes, alternate red and white” and “thirteen stars, white on a blue field” would represent the “new constellation” that was the union of the original states.

These days, that pattern — expanded to account for the current 50 states — is everywhere, from fashion runways to a parking lot in Omaha, where a teen recently used 680,000 plastic bricks to create an image of the flag. But it would take nearly a century after the adoption of the flag pattern for that design to start showing up on Americans’ personal property or clothing and memorabilia, according to Marc Leepson, author of Flag: An American Biography.

Originally, government buildings and…



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