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Five Things You Didn’t Know About The American Flag

Christian Petersen- Getty Images

It seems like this time of year we see the American flag flying high and proud every where we look, but you might be surprised to know a lot of things we’ve heard about the flag are actually wrong.

Here are 5 myths about the American flag:

1.  Betsy Ross didn’t make the first flag.  She DID make flags in Philadelphia, within a few years after the design first came out in 1777.  But the story about Betsy making the first one didn’t come out until 1870.  There’s never been any real evidence of it either.

2.  The colors don’t symbolize American sacrifice.  Officially, the colors of our flag don’t symbolize anything at all.  They were picked because the first flag of the American colonies had the same colors and before that, the British Union Jack.

3.  It was never a tradition to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Congress.  They’ve only been reciting it in the House for 25 years, and only since 1999 in the Senate.  They started doing it for political reasons, during the Bush–Dukakis presidential campaign.

4.  It’s not illegal to burn the flag.  That’s only a myth because no one pays attention to the Supreme Court.  Flag burning USED TO be illegal, but the laws were struck down in 1989, when the Court decided flag burning should be protected as a form of free speech.

5.  It’s not patriotic to wear the flag on your clothes.  The U.S. Flag Code says you’re not supposed to sell or display ANYTHING that has an image of the flag on it, if the flag is a distinguishing mark on it. The Flag Code isn’t enforceable by law, but it’s the official guideline for how people are supposed to treat the flag.  So you might THINK you’re being patriotic by wearing it on your tank top Flag Code says it’s disrespectful.

Source: AARP

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