Stars and Stripes

The current US flag has 13 stripes, but you knew that anyway.

So tell me why has the original sewn by Mrs Pickersgill got 15

The flag flown in the war of 1812 (the “Star Spangled Banner” written of by Francis Scott Key) had 15 stripes and 15 stars. At that time a new star and stripe were both added when a new state joined the union. They soon realized that this would get unwieldy, and reverted to the original 13 stripes and just added a star for new states.

Thanks large follically challenged one, now can you answer me this.

The US and its citizens set great store on the flag (yours that is) and take it as a really personal insult if some tosser defiles it.

Why is it that you look upon the flag in this way, we British are a little blase towards ours and in fact have to apply for permission to the local authorities if we want to put up a flagpole and fly the Union Flag/St Georges etc etc

This is generally refused because the local authorities do not want to upset the Pakistanis/Indians/Bosnians/Martians or whatever by a blatant display of nationalism.

Can you imagine if US citizens were told to take down the Star Spangled Banner…holy shit would certainly hit the fan

You are leaving the domain of General Questions with this one. Also, you are generalizing. There is a huge range of opinions about the flag among US citizens.

I think it’s because

  1. There aren’t so many neighboring countries to get offended at nationalism. Our neighbors aren’t our historical enemies (much), so we don’t care if they fly their flags all over, and we do the same.

  2. Maybe the U.S. flag is seen as more of a unifier than divider. I get the idea that the flag of St. George has been coopted by the skinheads in England, largely. Only the most blatant and out of place displays of the American flag would seem nationalistic over here, and even then wouldn’t carry racist overtones. Now the old Confederate States flag…

  3. You have to apply for permission to fly your own flag??? If this is really what you mean, I am horrified. You euros put up with levels of government interference that not even the most liberal person in the U.S. would ever propose. If a member of the U.S. Congress even suggested that casually, he/she would have to get a special room just for the hate mail. Seriously, there would be a very real possibility of his/her offices or property being vandalized, and he/she would be wise to take extra personal security measures.

I’m not defending the violent responses, just communicating the level of feeling that would cause.

Our love of our flag, National Anthem, etc., IS a blatant display of nationalism. But nationalism in the USA is inherently different from nationalism in the UK.

Specifically, in the UK (as is the case in most countries worldwide), your “Nation” has definite (though now waning) roots in the old-style definition of a “nation”, specifically encompassing a people of common ancestry, ethnicity, language, religion, customs, foodways, etc. Thus, in many ways, your flag celebrates the “British” in Great Britain to the exclusion of the new minorities that have come to dwell in your country as of late.

The USA has never had anything quite so uniform. We’ve always been hodgepodge of ethnicities, religions, customs, dialects, languages, etc., and celebrating American Nationalism (unless you’re some deluded member of the KKK who thinks that only WASPs are “Americans”) has been a celebration of our strange unity, and the fact that our nation-state has always been as much about people from different backgrounds voluntarily coming together to follow common ideals as it has been about being born in this land.

As to why the specific reverence for the flag, I believe that particular bit of patriotism is a product of our Civil War/postwar era. I’m fairly sure there have been threads on it here (most likely in relation to the oft-debated Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag).

I would think that reverence for one’s flag would be universally understood. The flag, even before the Civil War, was considered a symbol representing the people who rallied behind it. As such, displaying the flag identified a connection with a certain group. In the same way as a prominently displayed flag showed support, insult or damage to the flag represents an insult and a wish to damage the people the flag represents.

Picture the scene that is so common in the Middle East today, people stomping and burning various, but usually US, flags. In their culture the head is considered the most holy and clean part of the body, and the feet the most base and dirty part. To show someone the sole of your foot is extremely insulting, on the order that throwing poop at someone would be considered here. The burning symbolizes a wish to destroy, both by disbanding the organization represented and by harming or killing the members of said organization.

Such an insult is probably the most serious a person could make without entering the touchy realm of religion. Not only is the insult directed at the person viewing the act, but extends to include the family, friends, and even the ancestors of those represented by the flag.

I’ve always had a slightly different interpretation. The US, being so full of different ethnicities, religions, cultures, histories, and so on, has no single unifying symbol, except for the US flag. It’s the only thing we all have in common here.

CARDINAL: True, we have to apply for permission to fly our own flag and it is usually refused. This does not apply to Govt. Buildings or churches but even then you seldom see the flag flown.

Something my G/F and myself found refreshing whilst on hol. in the US last year was the display EVERYWHERE of your flag.

I actually bought both a US and CSA flag and am considering flying them just to see who complains.

CARDINAL: Incidentally I am not a euro, I am an Englishman and damn proud of it.

You can shove the rest of the motley crowd where the sun don’t shine

The student government of the U. of Central Florida has refused to fund putting flags in every classroom, and there has been a bit of a flap:,2933,93859,00.html

I believe similar resistance to the flag has occurred at one or two Ivy League universities.

They have all used that same bullshit reason of offending foreigners who go to the university. One would think that if the flag is be so offensive, surely actually being present in the US would be even worse.

You should see Canada. When the wife & I were driving through Nova Scotia (N of Yarmouth) a few years back, I was taken by the huge number of Canadian flags (and some other flag, I forgot what) flying everywhere. Much more than I had ever seen anywhere in the U.S., pre 9/11.

As you say, nice to see. I’m surprised about your rules against flying your own flag.

As to the flag reverence here in the colonies, for much of us, the flag was always a prominent feature in our lives. We would say the “pledge of allegiance” to the flag in schools growing up. Images that much of us cherish and move us include the flag on the moon, the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, the flag draped coffins of our fallen heroes… it has become a representation of all that is good about this nation, all that we can take pride in, and the history and sacrifice of what it took to get here.

For some, myself included, the flag means mostly this: We are very forunate, indeed; things can, and have been, much worse.

You see a lot of flags around here, too, although we don’t talk about them as much as Americans do ("Honor Old Glory! Don’t let the flag touch the ground! Sheesh… get over yourselves). It’s especially prominent around Israeli Independence Day - this April-May, I’d say around 70% of all cars on the road had a little plastic flag attached to the window or wheel wells.

That we may be offending someone actually makes us kind of proud.

You might do a little research into what flying the CSA flag symbolizes before you decide to fly it.

Well as I understand it the Southern States seceded from the Union over a number of issues of which slavery (banning of) was primary.

I’m not altogether certain of any others, perhaps you can recomend a website.

Believe me I would not fly the CSA flag in the hope of re-introducing slavery, I would fly it just to be ornery as you Americans say or as we English say Just to be frigging awkward

Sadly, there are plenty of U.S. citizens who value the flag more than the freedom it symbolizes.

Stories of flags being taken down are vastly over exagerrated by papers such as the Daily Mail here, who use the stories to their own ends. There’s a man with a cross of St. George flying outside of his house near my house, which isn’t far away from one of the biggest Asian areas around here. I doubt he asked permission to put it up (he is, however, an eccentric, with a clocktower on his roof) and it is easily seen from the main road passing near his house.

So in other words, spogga, please provide a cite of instances where the national flag was ordered to be taken down (of course, without the flag being flown in deliberately offensive or innapropriate places / times anyway).

Which one?

This really needs to be an IMHO…

There seems to be a sense that are flag was “built” with our country…add a state…add a star

The OP has been answered… 13 original (for the colonies)… the add a state, add a stripe would get outta hand.

But to supply you some “facts” that I have been taught to me in grade school, boy scouts and the military…here’s a site to show all the rules and codes we have for “Old Glory”

Now take the pledge of allegiance and playing of the national anthem (where a flag is usually flown) and it becomes a symbol for who we are.

The only time I’ve heard of the US flag being ordered removed was quickly over ridden by an appeals court.

Well, a CSA flag, or the battle flag, which is more famous, might not mean much in Englad, but I would still think very carefully about it. Flying over here immediately implies that there’s a very good chance of racist intent on the part of the owner. This is because there was definite racist intent by the original group it stood for. This is more inescapable than the history of the St. George flag, it would seem to me.

I once asked a black teacher I was working with, “Is there any way that the Confederate flag has become just a symbol of the south to blacks?”