All Americans know their flag, but we often use different names for our flag, Old Glory, the red white and blue, the Stars and Stripes, or the Star Spangled Banner, yet it is always the same flag. A beautiful banner with a field of silver stars on a blue background in the top left corner, and 13 red and white stripes horizontal on the remainder of the banner.
The thirteen red and white stripes represent the original thirteen colonies of Great Britain that fought for their independence in 1776 and gave the USA its constitution. The silver stars represent the states and territories of the United Stated now, and if other states join we could see more stars added.
At the time of the revolution a group of congressmen including Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Harrison, and Thomas Lynch designed the continental colors, which had the thirteen red and white stripes, but a British Union flag in the canton. After the declaration of independence George Washington asked his friend Betsy Ross if she would create a new flag for the USA, and in 1777 Betsy’s flag was flown for the first time.
As new states joined the US the flag was amended, with every new state being represented in both the number of stars and the number of red and white stripes, so in 1818 President Monroe signed the flag act that defined thirteen red and white stripes, and as many stars as was needed.
The actual arrangement of the stars was never specified, and in museums all over the country visitors can see examples of the Stars and Stripes with different patterns, sometimes a circular field of stars, sometimes horizontal or vertical lines, but this all changed in 1912 when President Taft signed an executive order stating the stars should be in 6 rows of 8 columns, and that each star needed to point to the top of the flag.
After the admission of Alaska and Hawaii into the United States of America in 1959, the flag underwent a final change, two more stars were added, but the Army Institute of Heraldry chose a new layout for the stars, 9 rows of 6 and 5 alternating columns. Today all manufacturers of American flags use this official design.