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Famous American Flags Displayed Throughout History

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April 25, 2024 at 3:04:14 PM PDT April 25, 2024 at 3:04:14 PM PDTth, April 25, 2024 at 3:04:14 PM PDT

The U.S. flag is one of the most prominent parts of American history. While its appearance has changed over the years, the stars and stripes have always symbolized freedom, bravery, and national pride. Since 1775, the American flag has been the most recognizable, revered, and even feared ensign worldwide. Let's explore the most famous flags that have paved the way for the flag of the United States we know and love today. 


American's Oldest Flag: The Bedford Flag 


The Bedford Flag, crafted from crimson silk damask, is recognized as the earliest complete American flag in existence. Believed to have been made approximately 70-50 years before the American Revolution, it was already a historical artifact by April 19, 1775. On that pivotal day, it was carried to the Concord Bridge by Nathanial Page, a Minuteman from Bedford, and flown by a cavalry troop of the Massachusetts Bay militia. This flag symbolizes the enduring spirit and heritage of early American patriotism. 


When you picture an American flag, you generally think of stars and stripes, but the Bedford flag looked nothing like our modern-day emblems. It was only 27" long and 29" wide and featured a mailed arm holding a sword emerging from the clouds. 


A ribbon with the Latin phrase "Vince Aut Morire" circles the arm, stating boldly, "Conquer or Die." Interestingly, the reverse side of the flag holds a slightly different design, with the arm being left-handed and the motto reading from the bottom to the top. Capture a piece of history with your own Bedford Flag in stock at Carrot-Top.com. 


The Star-Spangled Banner 


Did you know the famous poem turned song wasn't written during the Revolutionary War but rather a few years later during the War of 1812? Francis Scott Key, the writer, penned the poem he titled "The Defense of Fort McHenry" as he watched a British naval bombardment against the Baltimore, Maryland outpost. 


On the night of September 13 into the early hours of September 14, 1814, Key watched in awe as the small cavalcade stood against the large British forces. As the sun began to rise through the smoke, he caught a glimpse of the American flag flying on the flagpole amid the gunfire. 


At this moment, the image of the 15-star flag resolutely fluttering in the wind moved Key. He began writing the poem, which became the nation's most iconic, well-known song. Eventually, his words were set to the British tune of "To Anacreon in Heaven" and renamed "The Star-Spangled Banner." 


On March 3, 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed a resolution by the United States Congress to designate it as the official national anthem. Today, the Star-Spangled Banner remains a cornerstone of American culture, proudly sung at military, public, and sporting events nationwide. 


Visitors can see the exact flag that inspired Key to write the national anthem on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. 


Carrot-Top also proudly carries replicas of the 15-Star United States Flag, crafted from the finest materials. Are you curious about how the American flag has changed over the years? Read our blog post, "American Flags Through the Years."  


Lincoln's Casket Flag 


One of the most famous flags was crafted by Annin Flagmakers, a six-generation family company. The company was hired to create the flag that would accompany President Lincoln on his funeral procession to his final resting place over 150 years ago. 


Since the Civil War was over, the company's master seamstress added 37 stars, which included Nevada, a state that would enter the Union in only three months, and Nebraska soon to follow. The National flag was a triumph for the president, who would unfortunately not live to see the beauty of a free nation for all citizens. 


The red, white, and blue flag measured 4ft by 9 ft 6 in and was specially made to account for Lincoln's height. Since there were no restrictions on funeral flags in 1865, creating this custom ensign was easily accomplished.  


Recently, representatives from the Museum of Southern History brought the official flag back to the Annin headquarters. It was a memorable day as they were able to view and touch the historic flag with gloved hands and a palpable sense of reverence. 


When asked about his experience, Bob Caggiano, VP of Commercial Sales at Annin Flagmakers said, "To think that this Annin-produced flag was actually on Lincoln's casket is such a great story in itself and a huge part of our history. As I have always said, Annin is a footprint in American history. I was in total awe when I saw the flag for the first time in person."


The Museum of Southern History plans to sell the flag to fund the building of a new museum. Its net worth is currently estimated at around $5 million. 


You can purchase your own 37-Star Flag from Carrot-Top Industries and capture a piece of American history. 


The North Pole Flag 


The North Pole flag has a unique history. It was carried out in 1890 by Robert E. Peary during his first Artic expedition, but that's not the only reason it stands out. Instead of the traditional 50 stars, it only has 43 since, at the time, Wyoming was still one week shy of being admitted into the Union.


Financed by the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, he sought the limelight and would soon become an officer at a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Navy Yard. 


On his journey to the Arctic, Peary carried the flag with him. When he reached Greenland's northern coast, he raised it to claim the area for the United States of America. 


With his mission successful, Peary was able to secure further funding from wealthy New York investors to continue his adventures. You can purchase your own 43-star American flag in stock now at Carrot-Top.com. 


Iwo Jima Flag 


The Battle of Iwo Jima is one of the bloodiest of World War II. The fight took place between the American Marine Corps and the Army of Japan in February of 1945. Lasting four weeks, the conflict was a pivotal turning point in the war for the Pacific, as success would allow the U.S.A to create a strategic military base near the Japanese mainland. 


In all, over 70,000 Americans fought 22,000 Japanese who hid in a network of tunnels and bunkers throughout the island, making sneak attacks that would debilitate our forces. The battle is known for its high causality count and grueling combat on both sides. In the end, America's capture of Iwo Jima was a critical step in the Allied victory, allowing for air raids on the mainland that crippled the enemy forces. 


One of the most iconic pictures, The Flag Raising, was captured in Iwo Jima. It shows four men raising a flag on Mt. Suribachi only five days after the beginning of the battle. Unfortunately, only one of the men survived, with three dying before the Battle of Iwo Jima was won. The flag risen during this fateful conflict would only have held 48 stars since Hawaii and Alaska were yet to gain stateship. You can purchase a 48-Star Flag from Carrot-Top and capture a piece of American history.


The Moon Flag 


When humans first landed on the moon in 1969, they planted an American flag to commemorate the monumental achievement, symbolizing the resilience of the American spirit. Unfortunately, this flag likely did not survive; it was probably burned to ash from the intense heat of the rocket's exhaust during the astronauts' departure. Even if it had somehow remained, exposure to the sun’s harsh radiation over the years would have bleached the red and white stripes to white, erasing its colors. 


However, imagery captured by a lunar orbiter in 2012 tells a different story for the subsequent missions. The flags from the Apollo 12, 16, and 17 missions were not only still standing but also casting shadows on the lunar surface, suggesting they have withstood the test of time despite the moon's severe conditions. 


These findings serve as compelling evidence that, while they may now be colorless, the flags from these later Apollo missions continue to fly intact on the moon. This imagery offered those gazing up at the moon a poignant reminder of human ingenuity and exploration. 


The 9/11 Flag


The original flag photographed atop the rubble on 9/11 was believed lost until a Marine found it in his possession after watching a documentary about the missing Ground Zero flag. It's now displayed at the entrance of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, which is built atop the site of ground zero. Carrot-Top has a wide selection of high-quality 9/11 flags that make the perfect memorial. 


The SuperFlag 


The Superflag is America's largest flag. It was crafted in 1981 after being commissioned by Ski Demski of Long Beach, California. The flag is massive, measuring 255' x 555' and weighing more than 3,000 lbs. It takes over 600 volunteers to transport it, and each star measures 17' high, with the stripes measuring over 20' long. If laid flat, the flag would cover a football field one and a half times! Although it's not currently on display, it's sometimes brought out for special events like Flag Day. If you want to make a big impression, you can purchase a Beacon® Nylon American Flag up to 50' x 80' feet from Carrot-Top. 


Carrot-Top Proudly Partners with the Oldest Flag Makers 


Carrot-Top is proud to partner with Valley Forge Flag, Elder Flag, and Annin Flagmakers to deliver the highest quality flags to our customers. As some of the country's oldest and most respected flag makers, these companies have created stunning flags for over a century. They've flown at historical events like Lincoln's funeral, the moon landing, and during many military conflicts. Discover why these flags last the test of time with your own vibrant outdoor American flag from Carrot-Top Industries. 


Purchase an American Flag from Carrot-Top


Carrot-Top is the leading distributor of quality indoor and outdoor American flags. We also stock a wide selection of state flags, including South Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Texas, Tennessee, and Vermont. For those seeking historical reproductions, we proudly stock the most sought-after, including the Betsy Ross flag, the Gadsden flag, the Grand Union flag, the Bennington flag, and the Union Jack. Create an unforgettable flag display with an American-made flag from Carrot-Top Industries. 

Learn more about American flag history on our blog, "American Flag History: an Ever-Evolving Canvas of Freedom, Unity and Patriotism.

Photo credits: Wikimedia Commons, Bob Caggiano, VP of Commercial Sales, Annin Flagmakers

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