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In the US, there's a proper way to fold the flag. From what I can tell, there is no equivalent method in the UK.
When did the US adopt this special method for folding the flag?
This answer contains some conjecture. Perhaps somebody else will be able to provide better information.
The first piece of evidence comes from the Flag Institute (The UK's National Flag Charity). It provides a guide to Flying Flags in the United Kingdom. On page 6, under the heading As a Pall for a Coffin it says
If the flag is to be retained by the next of kin it can be folded using the Royal Navy's method shown here…
The diagrams shown are very similar to the US procedure.
The next piece of evidence comes from researching the British ensign, the flag flown by the British Navy. There are actually three: the White Ensign, the Blue Ensign, and the Red Ensign. Wikipedia says
Prior to 1864, red, white, and blue were the colours of the three squadrons of the Royal Navy, which were created as a result of the reorganisation of the navy in 1652 by Admiral Robert Blake. Each squadron flew one of the three ensigns.
and goes on to say
early flags of the American Revolution were modified Red Ensigns… the Union Flag in the corner was replaced by the current stars in 1777.
So my conjecture is that the current method was adopted from the British Navy, along with the Red Ensign. So, to answer the question, identifying "the flag" to mean the Flag of the United States adopted in 1777, the date would be 1777.
Three Cheers for the Red, White, and Blue Facts about the United States Flag
One of two flags that flew from the locomotive of the Lincoln funeral train on the route between Albany and Utica, New York.
Until the Executive Order of June 24, 1912, neither the order of the stars nor the proportions of the flag was prescribed. Consequently, flags dating before this period sometimes show unusual arrangements of the stars and odd proportions, these features being left to the discretion of the flag maker. In general, however, straight rows of stars and proportions similar to those later adopted officially were used. The principal acts affecting the flag of the United States are the following:
- Flag Resolution of June 14, 1777 - stated: "Resolved: 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."
- Act of January 13, 1794 - provided for 15 stripes and 15 stars after May 1795.
- Act of April 4, 1818 - provided for 13 stripes and one star for each state, to be added to the flag on the 4th of July following the admission of each new state.
- Executive Order of President Taft dated June 24, 1912 - established proportions of the flag and provided for arrangement of the stars in six horizontal rows of eight each, a single point of each star to be upward.
- Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated January 3, 1959 - provided for the arrangement of the stars in seven rows of seven stars each, staggered horizontally and vertically.
- Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated August 21, 1959 - provided for the arrangement of the stars in nine rows of stars staggered horizontally and eleven rows of stars staggered vertically.
NUMBER OF STARS IN THE U.S. FLAG, AND ADDITIONAL STATES REPRESENTED 1777 TO PRESENT
Additional states with date of entry into Union
- Delaware (December 7, 1787)
- Pennsylvania (December 12, 1787)
- New Jersey (December 18, 1787)
- Georgia (January 2, 1788)
- Connecticut (January 9, 1788)
- Massachusetts (February 6, 1788)
- Maryland (April 28, 1788)
- South Carolina (May 23, 1788)
- New Hampshire (June 21, 1788)
- Virginia (June 25, 1788)
- New York (July 26, 1788)
- North Carolina (November 21, 1789)
- Rhode Island (May 29, 1790)
- Vermont (March 4, 1791)
- Kentucky (June 1, 1792)
- Tennessee (June 1, 1796)
- Ohio (March 1, 1803)
- Louisiana (April 30, 1812)
- Indiana (December 11, 1816)
- Mississippi (December 10, 1817)
- Illinois (December 3, 1818)
- Alabama (December 14, 1819)
- Maine (March 15, 1820)
- Missouri (August 10, 1821)
- Arkansas (June 15, 1836)
- Michigan (Jan 26, 1837)
- Florida (March 3, 1845)
- Texas (December 29, 1845)
- Iowa (December 28, 1846)
- Wisconsin (May 29, 1848)
- California (September 9, 1850)
- Minnesota (May 11, 1858)
- Oregon (February 14, 1859)
- Kansas (January 29, 1861)
- West Virginia (June 20, 1863)
- Nevada (October 31, 1864)
- Nebraska (March 1, 1867)
- Colorado (August 1, 1876)
- North Dakota (November 2, 1889)
- South Dakota (November 2, 1889)
- Montana (November 8, 1889)
- Washington (November 11, 1889)
- Idaho (July 3, 1890)
- Wyoming (July 10, 1890)
- Utah (January 4, 1896)
- Oklahoma (November 16, 1907)
- New Mexico (January 6, 1912)
- Arizona (February 14, 1912)
- Alaska (January 3, 1959)
- Hawaii (August 21, 1959)
Prepared by the Armed Forces History Collections,
in cooperation with Public Inquiry Services,
Betsy Ross and the American Flag
Maybe! The evidence is compelling, though not conclusive. Several of her relatives testified to having heard extensive details of the flag's creation. The testimony is entirely plausible, and no other claimant has ever produced any equally compelling evidence, but no preserved documents from the Continental Congress or the personal correspondence of George Washington or any related figures has emerged to either confirm or contradict the claims made by Betsy's decendents.
While the evidence is simply not sufficient to definitively classsify it as a fact or a fiction, you can examine that evidence yourself and draw your own conclusions. You can read the testimony of William Canby and the affidavits of Rachel Fletcher, Sophia Hildebrant and Margaret Boggs
Are these people telling the truth? Is it all a carefully orchestrated hoax? Somewhere in between? That's up to you . . .
Why do some people think that Betsy Ross's creation of the flag is a myth?
Betsy's creation of the flag is not an established historical fact, like the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, or Washington's winter at Valley Forge. Those events quite definitely took place, and were public knowledge from the beginning.
Most of us learned about all those things in school. Upon learning later that Betsy Ross's flag creation has not been established with the same level of certainty as those other events, some conclude that it was therefore a myth or a hoax, like George Washington and the cherry tree. That's a genuine American myth. Betsy is not.
The available evidence is insufficient to establish Betsy as the creator of the flag with certaintly. But it's entirely plausible and consistent with the evidence we do have. Some suggest that sexism explains the reluctance to accept Betsy's achievements, but perhaps it is simply a misunderstanding of the process of history. Historians don't have all the answers. They don't have a complete and reliable record of the past. Historians need to interpret the available evidence to construct as accurate a picture of the past as they can, and sometimes the available evidence is incomplete and inconclusive. That's very different from a hoax or a myth.
What do the red, white, and blue of the flag represent?
The Continental Congress left no record to show why it chose the colors. However, in 1782, the Congress of the Confederation chose these same colors for the Great Seal of the United States and listed their meaning as follows:
- Red: Valor and hardiness,
- White: Purity and innocence
- Blue: Vigilance, perseverance, and justice.
According to legend, George Washington interpreted the elements of the flag this way: the stars were taken from the sky, the red from the British colors, and the white stripes signified the secession from the home country. However, there is no official designation or meaning for the colors of the flag.
Why are the stars in a circle?
The stars were in a circle so that no one colony would be viewed above another. It is reported that George Washington said, "Let the 13 stars in a circle stand as a new constellation in the heavens."
If Betsy sewed the flag, who designed it?
In an affidavit made public in 1870, Betsy Ross's daughter, Rachel Fletcher, testified :
Why would Betsy Ross be chosen to make the flag?
It was usual in that day for upholsterers to be flagmakers. As Betsy Ross prayed in the pew next to George Washington and had already sewn buttons for him, and she was a niece of George Ross, it is not exceptional that these members of the Flag Committee formed by the Continental Congress would call upon Betsy Ross to make the flag.
Was this her house?
It is known that Betsy Ross rented rooms here. At the time of the alleged flag creation, she was either here at 239 Arch Street or next door at 241 Arch, where the garden is now. House numbers on her street between the years 1785 and 1857 were registered using three different numbering systems, making the determination very tricky. If you are interested in historical detective work, you'll enjoy the methodical, historical approach used by experts: check out the Was this her house? page.
Where is the first flag?
We have very little definitive information about the first flag. Betsy's association with the flag arose through an oral history brought to public attention long after the flag's creation. No actual flag exists that is alleged to have been the first flag created by Betsy Ross.
Why is the flag called "Old Glory"?
In 1831, Captain William Driver, a shipmaster from Salem, Massachusetts, left on one of his many world voyages. Friends presented him with a flag of 24 stars. As the banner opened to the ocean breeze, he exclaimed, "Old Glory." He kept his flag for many years, protecting it during the Civil War, until it was flown over the Tennessee capital. His "Old Glory" became a nickname for all American flags.
Who was Mary Pickersgill?
Mary Young Pickersgill sewed the very large (30'x42') Star-Spangled Banner in the summer of 1813. It flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 (1812-1814) and was the inspiration for Francis Scott Key to write what would become our National Anthem. Pickersgill's flag today hangs at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Her house still stands as a museum you can visit in Baltimore, Maryland.
What is a vexillologist?
A vexillologist is an expert on flags and ensigns. A vexillum (plural vexilla) is a military standard or flag used by ancient Roman troops.
Many people discover among their family relics a certificate from the American Flag House and Betsy Ross Memorial Association. What is it?
Over two million of these certificates were sold starting in 1898 in order to raise funds needed to preserve the Betsy Ross House. These certificates were receipts or "thank-yous" for contributions of 10 cents. The Association went out of business in 1935. The only "value" to these is the knowledge that the recipient participated in the preservation of the Betsy Ross House.
Celebrate Flag Day by Remembering When Rush Got a Very Special Delivery in the Mail
KEN: It is Flag Day. June 14th, 244 years ago Congress commemorated Betsy Ross’s creation of the Stars and Stripes as our national flag. And I was raised like millions of Americans, you respect the flag. Even though I’m nonmilitary, I know how to fold the flag, display the flag, the history of the flag.
You never let the flag hit the ground. When you disposed of the flag in one of the — among the more special moments of when my kids were young now — they’re 17 and 20, almost — and when they were scouts, when they were Cub Scouts, Webelos, Boy Scouts, we would go to this event where everybody would get their old flags — tattered, ragged flags, and you ceremoniously disposed of them in the correct way, the honorable way. You burn them, but you burn them together, and you tell stories and you comment on American history.
I gotta say, as a scout dad back in the day, it was one of the coolest events. I have these beautiful photographs of my kids and the other scouts in uniform reading little parts of American history, and then we got new flags, and the flag looked different throughout the years. I mean, there’s 27 variations. Actually, as America grew through the colonies to 50 states, there were 27 variations. And I think the left at one time or another has hated all of them. They’ve managed to hate all of them.
Remember the big Betsy Ross thing. Remember the big fundraiser on the Rush Limbaugh Show. That started because the left, they were acting like knuckleheads again.
We have a great story told by Rush of when he received a very special delivery involving our American flag.
RUSH I’ve told this story before. Some of you who have been longtime listeners have heard the story, but it is worth hearing it again.
It’s May of 2003. A couple of months earlier, we began the invasion of Iraq, one of the first acts in the War on Terror. This was the war that was to remove and eliminate Saddam Hussein. George W. Bush had spent a year and a half traveling the country explaining it, gearing up support for it. It was a major, major conflict in the War on Terror and our response to it.
And it had become controversial, of course. The Democrats, the unity after 9/11, 2001, lasted about two weeks, and then that became politicized. And on that day in May, early May of 2003, I went home. Well, I’d gotten a note before I got home. “You have got to come straight home. You won’t believe what just arrived FedEx.”
I said, “What is it? Just tell me.”
They said, “No, you have to see this.” So I got home, and I looked at what I had received, and I was floored. I was stunned. I’d never seen anything like it. I didn’t know these things happened. I was moved. I was blown away. I felt small. I ran through all kinds of emotions. I mean, in lickety-split fashion. What it was was an American flag properly folded inside a Ziploc bag. And there were certificates stating that flag had flown on the following aircraft. And each aircraft had a — well, you would frame it. It’s like an official notification of the date that the aircraft flew that flag on a mission.
There were five different aircraft and a tanker. And all of the pilots of the five different aircraft and the tanker had signed the documents certifying that that flag had flown. The tanker pilot was the originator, the mastermind of this, and he included a handwritten note on yellow legal paper explaining that these five crew members had flown that flag in my honor on the initial bombing runs, the first bombing runs in the war against Iraq, the Shock and Awe portion. And, as their missions were completed and as they were all refueled by this tanker pilot, that flag was put in the Ziploc bag and the pilots all signed these certifications, and they were FedExed to me. And they did nothing more than that.
I received this and was floored. As I say, I went through a mixture of emotions, including humility and smallness. And I’m asking myself what have I done — ’cause this was an honor, I mean, it was clearly an honor. I didn’t know things like this happened. Just not enough experience in actual military combat circumstances to know that time was taken for this kind of ceremonial or memorial type event.
Well, we took that flag, and we unfolded it, and it’s now framed, and the certificates with all those signatures and the picture of each of the aircraft — and there’s fighters, there’s bombers, and the tanker — they surround the flag. And we had an actual golden eagle carved to stand, and it’s about five feet tall once it’s on its pedestal. It’s huge. And we put this in a niche, big niche in a room right outside my library so you can’t miss this when you’re walking into the library.
People who don’t know about this, ask, “What in the world is that?” And I get to regale them with the story. I said, “Yeah, these guys flew that flag in my honor on the initial bombing run of Iraq.” Well, the ringleader of this operation was Lieutenant Colonel Mark Hasara. He flew the tanker. He flew KC-135s, which is the military version of Boeing 707 and the KC-10, which is the military version of the DC-10.
He’s the one that had written the note on yellow legal paper explaining why they did it. And it was filled with recognition and support and thanks for the support I had given the military over the years. As I say, I was blown away by it. It was an honor that I didn’t even know existed and I had no idea it was coming. And even now when I stop and think about the fact that it happened, it’s one of those events that happens in your life or in your career that you never forget and that you’re always going to be overwhelmingly and supremely proud of.
Well, over the years, Kathryn and I have gotten to know lieutenant Colonel Hasara and his wife and his family, and we see them now and then. And, folks, these people that you never meet, they’re just humble. When I talk about people who make the country work, these are the people I’m talking about. They’re out there volunteering every day, they sign up to defend the country, to protect the Constitution, to carry out their orders. They’re doing it because this is how they’ve decided they want to serve their country.
In Hasara’s case, it’s been his life, and most of these other pilots, they never really leave it even after their service ends. But they never seek any fame. They didn’t send me this for fame. They didn’t send this for notoriety or notification or anything else. They just sent it as a distinct honor.
I can’t tell you — I mean, I sitting here, I’m looking at this package and we’re going through the process of getting this all framed and I’m thinking, here these guys have their orders, they’re part of the initial bombing run, and before they leave somebody organizes this tribute to me by having this flag fly in every one of these aircraft. They’re the best-kept secrets in this country
KEN: You know, the most frustrating thing and painful thing for patriotic Americans which this audience is filled with, is the way some of the people on the left speak of the flag and the military and what they’re doing to the military. First of all, it’s hard to understand. It’s hard to understand where that comes from. You see a 30-year-old member of The Squad or some idiot like Congressman Swalwell, and they’re talking trash about something that we all know better about, like the military, for example, and what Rush was just describing, the honor — and there is a level of sacred respect with the flag for a billion reasons. And for that no longer to be taught in schools, it is heartbreaking.
10 Myths About the American Flag
by Aaron Kassraie, AARP, July 2, 2020 | Comments: 0
En español | The American flag has evolved over time along with the nation. The first official red, white and blue flag bearing 13 stars and 13 stripes debuted in 1777. Today's familiar 50-star flag dates back to 1960, the year after Alaska and Hawaii became states. Legends and misconceptions about the flag have also evolved over time. Here's a closer look at 10 myths about the American flag and the truth behind each of them.
Myth #1: Betsy Ross created the first American flag
The familiar story of George Washington walking into a shop and asking Betsy Ross to sew a flag originated with William Canby, a grandson of Ross, said Peter Ansoff, president of the North American Vexillological Association, a group devoted to the study of flags. Canby presented his tale with little supporting evidence to the Pennsylvania Historical Society in 1870, nearly a century after the original flag was created. He claimed Ross told him the story right before her death in 1836, when he would have been around 11 years old.
"Obviously, he was still a youngster at the time, and he was writing this much later than that,” Ansoff said. “There are many discrepancies in the story — some things that just don't make sense."
Since Washington was out in the field commanding the army, for example, he didn't spend much time in Philadelphia, where Ross’ upholstery shop was located. Additionally, flags were first made not for ground troops but for naval forces, which Washington had little to do with, Ansoff said. The true creator of the first American flag is likely lost to history.
Myth #2: The flag has always had stars and stripes
America's earliest flags did not have stars and stripes. A flag used in 1775, for example, did have stripes, but it displayed the British Union Jack crosses in the canton, the top left corner of the flag that's also known as the union. The primary use of a national flag at that time was for naval ships to be able to recognize each other.
Congress didn't adopt the flag with 13 stars and 13 stripes as the official U.S. flag until 1777.
Myth #3: Americans have always flown the flag
Prior to the Civil War, flags were really only flown in an official capacity on ships, forts and government buildings. “In the antebellum period, if a citizen had flown his flag on his house or carriage, people would have thought that was strange. Why is he doing that? He's not the government,” Ansoff said.
The outbreak of war in 1861 quickly changed Americans’ attitudes about displaying the flag.
"At the beginning of the Civil War there was an outburst of patriotism,” Ansoff said, “and very soon, you saw people flying flags everywhere to show their support for the Union cause."
Myth #4: Red, white and blue have official meanings
The colors of the flag were not assigned any official meaning when the first flag was adopted in 1777. The traditional meanings assigned to the colors may have arisen five years later, in 1782, when Charles Thompson, the secretary of the Continental Congress, waxed poetic about the colors in the Great Seal of the United States, which he helped design. Thompson described the red in the seal as representing hardiness and valor the white, purity and innocence and the blue, vigilance, perseverance and justice.
As for the origin of the red-white-and-blue color scheme, it's likely no coincidence that the British flag bore the same three colors.
FLAG DAY 2021: CELEBRATING THE AMERICAN FLAG !
Flag Day is Monday, June 14! This annual holiday celebrates the history and symbolism of the American flag. Learn about the history of this holiday and the beloved Stars and Stripes!
WHAT IS FLAG DAY?
Flag Day is a celebration of the American flag that occurs each year on the anniversary of the flag’s official adoption, June 14.
What we know fondly as the “Stars and Stripes” was adopted by the Continental Congress as the official American flag on June 14, 1777, in the midst of the Revolutionary War. Colonial troops fought under many different flags with various symbols—rattlesnakes, pine trees, and eagles—and slogans—”Don’t Tread on Me,” “Liberty or Death,” and “Conquer or Die,” to name a few.
The Declaration of Independence made the adoption of an American flag necessary. Previously, each colony or special interest had its own flag.
On the 14th of June, Congress made the following resolution: “The flag of the United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white, with a union of thirteen stars of white on a blue field …” Official announcement of the new flag was not made until Sept. 3, 1777.
Who Made the First American Flag?
The origins of the Stars and Stripes have become part of American folklore. Although many people believe that Betsy Ross designed and sewed the first flag, there is no true proof of this. However, records do indicate that she made ensigns and pennants for the Philadelphia navy during the war. Various towns in colonial America have claimed to be the birthplace of the Stars and Stripes.
Based on colonial folklore, it has also been stated that the American flag was first flown in battle during the Revolutionary War at the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge in 1777. This may also be the stuff of legend.
However, what we do know is this:
The first American flag was designed to represent the 13 original colonies with 13 white stars on a blue field and 13 alternating red and white stripes.
One of the first flag designs had the stars arranged in a circle, based on the idea that all colonies were equal. In 1818, after a few design changes, the United States Congress decided to retain the flag’s original 13 stripes and add new stars to reflect each new state that entered the union.
Today, there are 50 stars, one for each state in the union, but the 13 stripes remain.
WHEN IS FLAG DAY?
Flag Day, celebrated annually on June 14, is not an official federal holiday, but its observance is traditionally proclaimed each year by the president of the United States. On Flag Day, many towns and cities hold parades and events to celebrate the flag, and the colors are to be flown at all government buildings.
HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN FLAG
- January 1, 1776: The first United States flag, the “Grand Union,” was displayed by George Washington. It became the unofficial national flag, preceding the 13-star, 13-stripe version.
- June 14, 1777: The Stars and Stripes were adopted by the Continental Congress as the Flag of the United States.
- June 14, 1877: Flag Day was observed nationally for the first time on the 100th anniversary of the Stars and Stripes—and continues today.
- June 14, 1937: Pennsylvania became the first state in the United States to celebrate Flag Day officially as a state holiday.
- July 4, 1960: The new 50-star flag was flown for the first time—the flag that still flies today.
WHY IS THE AMERICAN FLAG RED, WHITE, AND BLUE?
The Continental Congress left no record as to why it chose these colors. However, in 1782, the Congress of the Articles of Confederation chose the colors for the Great Seal of the United States with these meanings:
- white for purity and innocence
- red for valor and hardiness
- blue for vigilance, perseverance, and justice
According to the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, the colors originated with the British flag, which is called the Union Jack and was a combination of the Scottish cross of St. Andrew (white on blue) and the English cross of St. George (red on white) at the time. (The modern British flag also incorporates the Irish cross of St. Patrick into its design.)
AMERICAN FLAG ETIQUETTE
Did you know that there is a proper way to fly the American flag? The U.S. Flag Code is an official set of guidelines (not laws) that dictates how a flag should be flown in order to show it the respect and honor that it deserves. Learn all about American Flag Etiquette here and be well prepared to hoist the flag this Flag Day!
WHERE MAY THE AMERICAN FLAG BE FLOWN 24 HOURS A DAY?
The flag is usually taken indoors at night out of respect, but there are some places where flying the flag around the clock is permissible. Do you think you can guess them?
- The Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia
- The White House
- The U.S. Capitol
- The Iwo Jima Memorial to U.S. Marines in Arlington, Virginia
- The Revolutionary War battleground in Lexington, Massachusetts
- The site of George Washington’s winter encampment at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania
- Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland
- The Jenny Wade House in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (Jenny Wade was the only civilian killed in the Battle of Gettysburg, during the Civil War)
- The USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor
- All customs points of entry into the United States
- Any U.S. Navy ship that is under way
In truth, the flag may be flown at night anywhere that it may be flown during the day, provided that it is properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.
Flag Day is just one of many patriotic celebrations in the United States. Learn about George Washington’s birthday in our article on Presidents’ Day and don’t forget to catch up on your Independence Day history before July 4!
US Embassy to Vatican flies LGBT ‘Pride’ flag for month of June
The U.S. Embassy to the Holy See announced on Tuesday, June 1, that it was displaying the rainbow LGBT “Pride” flag for the month of June, which is celebrated as LGBT “Pride” month.
“The United States respects the dignity and equality of LGBTQI+ people. LGBTQI+ rights are human rights,” the embassy stated on Twitter.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier this year announced that U.S. embassies and consulates around the world could fly the “Pride” flag on the same flagpole as the American flag, during “Pride season.”
The authorization to fly the flag – which was not a mandate – was given ahead of May 17, observed as the international day against homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia. June, during which embassies can also fly the “Pride” flag on the external flagpole, is celebrated as “Pride” month by people identifying as LGBT.
Under the Trump administration, U.S. diplomatic outposts were reportedly prohibited from flying the rainbow flag from embassy flagpoles, and had to obtain special permission to do so. They were allowed to display the flag inside buildings.
Antony Blinken’s cable on “Pride” flags, first reported by Foreign Policy magazine in April, advised that diplomatic posts in certain countries should avoid flying the rainbow flag if doing so would create a backlash.
Also on Tuesday, President Joe Biden, the second Catholic president in U.S. history, issued a statement on June 1 for “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Pride Month, 2021.”
“Pride is both a jubilant communal celebration of visibility and a personal celebration of self-worth and dignity,” Biden stated.
He praised recent Supreme Court decisions that recognized a legal right to same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges, and which ruled that federal civil rights protections against sex discrimination in the workplace also extended to sexual orientation and gender identity, in Bostock v. Clayton County.
Biden also called on Congress to pass the Equality Act, legislation which establishes sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in federal civil rights law alongside race and sex.
The U.S. bishops’ conference (USCCB) has warned that despite the bill’s aims of combatting discrimination, it would discriminate against people of faith who are opposed to the redefinition of marriage and transgenderism.
The USCCB has warned that the bill, by mandating access to public accommodations based on one’s sexual orientation or gender identity, could be used to pressure churches to “host functions that violate their beliefs.” Religious adoption agencies could be forced to match children with same-sex couples, and faith-based women’s shelters could be required to house biological males identifying as transgender females.
The legislation also overrides religious freedom claims made under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
In his statement, Biden also touted his Jan. 20 executive order that stated his administration’s policy of interpreting civil rights protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
He noted his administration’s implementation of that order through agency rules, such as the Department of Education interpreting Title IX to protect sexual orientation and gender identity, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development requiring federally-funded shelters to accept clients based on gender identity and not their birth sex.
During the Obama administration, the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See made pro-LGBT social media posts on the international day against homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia and during “Pride Month," in 2014, and in 2011.
The embassy also made a pro-LGBT Facebook post for "Pride Month" in 2017 during the Trump administration.
More in US
Six dioceses in Baltimore, Washington provinces reinstate Sunday obligation
Ivanka Trump, President Trump's daughter and presidential advisor, stated, "I am proud to support my LGBTQ friends and the LGBTQ Americans who have made immense contributions to our society and economy."
This article was updated on June 2, 2021, with a correction and new information.
Presidential proclamations and laws authorize the display of the flag 24 hours a day at the following places:
- Fort McHenry, National Monument and Historic Shrine, Baltimore, Maryland
- Flag House Square, Baltimore, Maryland
- United States Marine Corps Memorial (Iwo Jima), Arlington, Virginia
- On the Green of the Town of Lexington, Massachusetts
- The White House, Washington, D.C.
- United States customs ports of entry
- Grounds of the National Memorial Arch in Valley Forge State Park, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania
Gifting a Folded Flag Isn’t ‘Only For Fallen Veterans’
Headlines on social media misleadingly suggest that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi violated a military tradition when she gave a folded flag to the brother of George Floyd. A folded flag is not “Reserved Only For Fallen Veterans,” as one headline claims. Members of Congress routinely present flags that have flown over the U.S. Capitol as gifts.
Philonise Floyd — the brother of George Floyd, who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis in late May — testified before the House Judiciary Committee on June 10 during a hearing on police practices and law enforcement accountability.
During Philonise Floyd’s visit to the Capitol, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gifted him a folded, encased U.S. flag — as a photo posted on her official Facebook and Twitter accounts shows.
“Philonise Floyd’s heart-wrenching testimony to the House Judiciary Committee left its mark on us all. May this flag, which flew over the Capitol on the day of his brother’s murder, serve as a symbol of our shared commitment to securing justice for George and all victims of police violence,” her Facebook post said.
Headlines that circulated on social media in the days after, however, misleadingly suggested that Pelosi’s act trampled on a tradition that reserved the gifting of a folded flag only for military families.
The conspiracy theory website InfoWars, in a June 15 story that was republished by teaparty.org, declared: “Pelosi Gifts George Floyd’s Brother Folded American Flag Reserved Only For Fallen Veterans.”
A headline on NeonNettle.com on June 16 echoed the claim: “Pelosi Gifts George Floyd’s Brother Folded American Flag Meant for Fallen Military.” The website later corrected its story.
The InfoWars story goes on to claim that “[f]olded American flags are traditionally presented by the U.S. government to families of fallen veterans during military funerals” and cites “specific criteria necessary to receive a folded American flag” from the U.S. Veterans Affairs website. It claims Floyd’s family “does not fall into the listed criteria of eligible recipients.”
There are indeed criteria for those eligible to receive burial flags from Veterans Affairs the flags are provided at no cost for the funeral of veterans and typically are given to the next-of-kin as a keepsake afterward.
But there’s nothing that precludes Pelosi, or any other American citizen, from gifting a flag — or folding it.
“There are no prescriptive rules saying you can’t give a flag to anyone,” said Scot Guenter, senior director of the Flag Research Center and professor emeritus of American Studies at San Jose State University. “The whole point of the American flag is that we don’t live in a society that says you can’t use the flag.”
Guenter, who wrote the book, “The American Flag, 1777-1924: Cultural Shifts from Creation to Codification,” also told us in a phone interview that folding a flag is a sign of respect for it.
There is also no mention in the U.S. “Flag Code,” whose provisions Guenter said are “ rules of etiquette,” of who is allowed to gift a flag.
“While the Department of Veterans Affairs provides a casket flag for all honorable veterans and the military service provides them for active-duty service members upon their death, the U.S. Flag Code does not prohibit or limit a flag draping the coffin to any specific group,” John Raughter, a spokesman for the American Legion, a veterans association, told us in an email. “Traditionally though, as the flag is provided for veterans and active-duty service members, it has come to represent a veteran funeral rite.”
Raughter added that “there is no rule about who may receive a flag as a gift. We encourage the display of the flag of the United States by all citizens of the United States. Now while there is no rule for it, traditionally a flag is folded into a triangle when it is not flown and may be stored in a presentation case if a particular flag has special meaning.”
“So presenting someone with a flag, folded into a triangle and placed into a display case is an honorable way of presenting and maintaining the flag of the United States,” he said.
Flags that are flown over the Capitol — as was the case with the one given to Philonise Floyd — are, in fact, routinely requested by the offices of members of Congress through the Capitol Flag Program, which started in the 1930s.
The program, under the Architect of the Capitol, allows members of the public to purchase such flags through House and Senate offices many members of Congress have instructions on their websites for ordering a flag for any occasion. The Architect of the Capitol “fulfills on average more than 100,000 flag requests from Members of Congress annually, with the number of requests and the popularity of the Capitol Flag Program growing steadily each year,” according to the program’s website.
And, according to the House Members’ Congressional Handbook, members can use such flags as official gifts.
“ U.S. flags flown over the Capitol for official presentation as a gift, including the flag flying fee, are reimbursable,” the handbook says. “Such flags must be for the personal use of or display by the recipient (examples may include, but are not limited to: flags presented at a building dedication for which the Member secured official funding, a flag presented to the family of a fallen soldier, flags presented for exceptional public distinction, etc,).”
So nothing in the handbook, either, limits members’ gifting of flags flown over the Capitol only to military families.
In December 2016, former Rep. Dennis Ross, a Republican from Florida, gave a folded, framed flag that had flown over the Capitol to a new school in Davenport, Florida. And the next year, Republican Rep. Roger Williams of Texas gifted two folded, encased flags from the Capitol to two new schools in his district.
Update, June 19: We updated this article to reflect that NeonNettle.com has corrected its story.
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.
“Burial Flags Frequently Asked Questions.” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Accessed 17 Jun 2020.
“Capitol Flag Program.” Architect of the Capitol. Accessed 18 Jun 2020.
Guenter, Scot. Senior director, Flag Research Center. Phone interview with FactCheck.org. 17 Jun 2020.
“Members’ Congressional Handbook.” House Committee on House Administration. Accessed 18 Jun 2020.
Raugher, John. Spokesman, American Legion. Email to FactCheck.org. 18 Jun 2020.
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A symbol of independence
The flag’s symbolic meaning was not publicized until 1782, with the creation of the United States’ seal. At the seal’s unveiling, Charles Thompson, the secretary to the Continental Congress and primary designer of the seal, said the white signified purity and innocence, the red signified hardiness and valor, and the blue signified vigilance, perseverance, and justice.
Others have offered their own interpretations, with common ones being that red symbolizes the blood of the fallen, or stripes mimick rays of sunlight. Whatever the interpretation, the symbolic nature of the American flag’s design may echo the country’s individualist foundations.
In contrast to the United Kingdom’s flag, often called the “Union Jack,” which consists of the overlapping crosses of St. George, St. Andrew, and St. Patrick, the American flag pays tribute to no one person or religion.
As has been the case with their country, Americans have changed their flag throughout the years. Flag Day honors this evolving emblem.