As America fought for its independence from Great Britain, it soon became evident that the new nation needed a flag of its own to identify American forts and ships. A design of thirteen alternating red and white stripes and thirteen stars in a blue field was accepted by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. These stars and stripes honored the thirteen states that had joined together to form the United States of America.

As the United States expanded, however, more states were added to the Union. To celebrate the Nation’s growth, Congress decided that the flag should become a visible symbol of change and established that the American flag would have one star for every state. The design of the American flag has changed twenty-seven times, and since 1959 it has had fifty stars and thirteen stripes.

The American flag is called the “Star-Spangled Banner,” the “Stars and Stripes,” the “Red, White, and Blue,” and “Old Glory.” To emphasize the impor­tance of the American flag to the Nation and its people, Congress established June 14 of each year as Flag Day. On this day, Americans take special notice of the flag and reflect on its meaning.