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What Do the Colors of the American Flag Mean?

Published on
June 6, 2023 at 11:35:00 AM PDT June 6, 2023 at 11:35:00 AM PDTth, June 6, 2023 at 11:35:00 AM PDT

The U.S. flag's design has changed many times throughout our nation's history, but one aspect has remained the same. Red, white and blue colors have adorned our emblem since the beginning, rooting themselves in the heart of America's identity. However, most people are unaware of each color's specific meaning, which sheds light on American history and highlights the bravery and courage encapsulating our nation's spirit. If you'd like to learn more about the meaning behind the colors of the American flag, keep reading! 

The History of the American Flag 

Early American flag history is unclear and full of discrepancies. What we do know is that the need for a national flag started with the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. As part of the initiative to differentiate themselves from the English, the Continental Congress agreed to meet in Pennsylvania on June 14, 1777, to create our nation's first official emblem. Previously, each colony would fly their own flag atop colonial vessels, an act viewed as piracy by the King and punishable by hanging. 

Historians widely credit Francis Hopkinson as the designer of the first flag of the United States of America and Betsy Ross as the seamstress. Ross was approached in June of 1776 by General George Washington, financier of the Revolutionary War Robert Morris, and Colonel George Ross with a sketch of the flag's proposed design. They asked if she could bring the design to life. After suggesting a few changes, like going from six to five-pointed stars and arranging the new constellation in a circle, she went to work sewing all thirteen red and white stripes.   


The design of the American flag has changed many times throughout the years, but through its 27 official alterations, its colors have remained the same. For more information on the history of the American flag, please read our blog post on American flag history.  

The Current Flag's Significance


Today, despite numerous alternations to its size, shape, and design over the years, the flag remains one of the most iconic and recognizable symbols of America. While the 50 five-pointed stars in the blue plain represent each state, the 13 alternating red and white stripes are a callback to the 13 original colonies. To gain a deeper appreciation of the significant nature of the flag's design, you must understand the meaning behind its colors. 

What Do the Colors of the American Flag Mean?


The colors chosen for the American flag find their origins in the Great Seal of the United States, which was created a year prior. For almost five years, American citizens would receive no explanation for the significance of these color choices until Charles Thomson, one of the country's Founding Fathers and the Secretary of the Continental Congress, presented the Seal. He would explain as follows: 

Red Stripes


Brightly inlaid upon Old Glory red signifies the hardiness of the American people and their ability to overcome trial and adversity. 

White Stripes


The white stripes represent purity and innocence, setting our nation apart from the corruption of England. 




Finally, piercing through the stripes upon Old Glory blue signifies vigilance, perseverance, and justice, which would be the backbone of our newly formed nation. 

While it is true that the flag colors are pulled from Great Britain's Union Jack, their significance highlights the hope and excitement on which America was built. 


The colors of the American flag have inspired some of our country's most notable anthems, including the Star Spangled Banner and the Pledge of Allegiance, as well as being used within many state flags. These emblems draw inspiration from the meaning behind the national flag, embracing its strength and hope. Some noticeable examples include: 






-New York 

-New Jersey 





Other Countries that Use Red, White, and Blue


America isn't the only country to use red, white, and blue within the flag; it is a popular color combination used throughout the world. Other nations to use the same colorway include: 



The French flag was instituted in 1946 and 1958 as the country's official emblem. Known as the "tricolor," it contains three equal-width stripes and is one of the official three French symbols. 


The Netherlands


Each of the three horizontal bands on the Netherlands flag symbolizes the country's most important attributes. Red stands for valor, bravery, and strength; white represents honesty and peace; blue symbolizes justice, vigilance, perseverance, loyalty, and truth. The flag dates back to 1575, with its final standardization occurring in 1949. 



The Liberian flag is very similar to its American counterpart, with a blue canton aside red and white stripes. However, instead of 50 white stars, it contains a singular one nestled within the blue field. Adopted on August 24, 1847, the stripes symbolize the Liberian Declaration of Independence, moral excellence, and courage. The white star represents Africa's first independent republic, while the blue stands for the whole of the African continent. 


Keep the Colors of Your Flag Vibrant with Carrot-Top Industries!

When displaying your American flag, it's essential to fly one with vibrant red, white, and blue colors. Flying a faded U.S. flag goes against the flag code. Many flags that have been exposed to the elements will start to fade after a few months. At Carrot-Top, we guarantee that your flag will hold its color for at least six months when you buy one of our exclusive fabrics. For a long-lasting flag that keeps its colors, choose from our Beacon® Nylon American Flags or Patriarch® Polyester American Flags. These flags are built for outdoor weather and feature high-quality construction, sewn strips, and rust-resistant brass grommets. Shop online to get started on your order! 

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