The flag of the United States (often known as “Old Glory” or “the Stars and Stripes”) contains 13 alternating red and white horizontal stripes (the top stripe is red), with a blue rectangle in the canton (known as the “union”) containing 50 small white five-pointed stars. The flag may also be decorated with a gold fringe, which although not part of the flag itself, is quite common, for example in Army parades.
The 13 stripes of the flag honor the original 13 colonies, and the 50 stars represent the 50 states of the Union. Over time more stars have been added as more states have joined the Union, the current design having been adopted on July 4th 1960 after the accession of Hawaii as the 50th state.
Many American citizens understand the flag to stand for US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence and the freedoms and liberties of the country in general, as well as past sacrifices in wars to protect those freedoms. The symbolism of the flag is understood by different people in different ways, for example, many people take the red to stand for the blood of past sacrificies, and white to stand for the purity of the freedom ideal.
U.S. Federal law contains many regulations about the use, display and disposal of the flag, however there is no penalty for failure to comply with these regulations because this would conflict with the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution.
By custom the US flag is flown continuously at certain locations including the White House in Washington D.C., and the Marine Corps War Memorial in Rosslyn near Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. Additionally, US flags are also on continuous display on the moon, having been placed their by the Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15 and 17 space missions (it is unclear if the Apollo 11 flag was knocked down during the take-off of the Lunar Excursion Module).