From President Washington’s wooden teeth to the Liberty Bell ringing, the history of the United States is filled with myths that are more amusing to believe that the oft-more-convoluted real accounts of the historical events they were referenced in.

And the American flag is no exception to these fun myths.

Read more as we are going to tackle some of the most common myths associated with the American flag in today’s article.

Let’s begin…


Misconception 1: Betsy Ross Made It First

This is probably the most common myth connected to the creation of our national flag. As the story goes, Pres. Washington walked into a shop and commissioned the services of seamstress extraordinaire Betsy Ross to create a flag from the original design of William Canby, Ross’ grandson.

It was said that Canby told his tale in 1870 to the Pennsylvania Historical Society, roughly a century after the creation of the first flag. But the thing is, he gave little supporting evidence to back up his account and there were a lot of discrepancies to his tale.

To be specific, Pres. Washington was a field commander and rarely spent time in Philadelphia where Ross’ shop was located. Also, flags were originally made for naval troops and not for ground forces at that time. So the true maker of the first real American flag is not determined for now.

Misconception 2: Old Designs Are Considered Obsolete

According to the myth, only old American Flags with 50 stars & 13 stripes are legally allowed to be displayed.

But the fact of the matter is, our country’s flag code did not indicate any detail of how many stars and stripes to be included on the flag. Hence, old designs of the US flag will never go obsolete. In addition, any American flag that is officially approved, no matter how the stars and stripes are arranged CAN be displayed anywhere until it’s no longer serviceable.

Misconception 3: Washing The American Flag Is Strictly Prohibited

Contrary to popular belief, washing the US flag is allowed. In fact, the US flag code does not indicate any information or provisions pertaining to the washing of the flag. And the decision to wash the flag depends on the prerogative of the owner as well as the fabric and the present condition of the real American flag.

Misconception 4: A Flag Must Be Destroyed Once It Touches The Ground

This myth is based on the idea that taints and dishonors the flag once it touches the ground and being displayed afterward. But in relation to the myth stated above, any real American flag that touches the ground can be cleaned as long as it still in serviceable condition.

Misconception 5: American Flags Used In Caskets Should Be Retired And Not Allowed To Be Displayed Again

The truth is, flags used in funerals can still be displayed upon the discretion of the owner. But they must make sure that it is still serviceable and in good condition with no stains or tears. In fact, American flags used in caskets are still displayed by the deceased soldiers’ families to commemorate their loyal service to our country. And such flags are usually neatly folded for presentation purposes.

Misconception 6: US Flags Should Never Be Displayed At Night

Although flags are traditionally displayed during daytime, it doesn’t restrict us from displaying it at night time. Just make sure that it is properly illuminated as indicated in the US flag code.

Sufficient lighting is essential so anyone can easily recognize it as the flag of the United States from a distance.

Misconception 7: The US Flag Code Is Strictly Enforceable, And Any Violations Are Subjected To Penalties

The US flag code is also a subject of misconception due to capitalistic abuse and white lies motivated by patriotism. But in reality, the flag code was made only as a guide to American citizens on how to handle the flag properly. And such actions are not compulsory but rather mandatory, as stated in the opening sections of the US flag code. Hence, it does not carry penalties for any non-compliance and it doesn’t even include enforcement provisions.

Misconception 8: The 3 Colors Had Official Meanings When The First Flag Was Introduced

small american flag

The red, white, & blue colors did not signify any meaning when the flag was first used in 1777. Yet, the meanings were assigned 5 years later by Charles Thompson. He was the Continental Congress secretary at that time and he helped design the Great Seal.

According to Sec. Thompson, the red color in the seal symbolizes hardiness and valor while the while represented purity and innocence and the blue color signifying justice, vigilance, and perseverance. Eventually, the meanings and representations of the 3 colors from the Great Seal were also adapted to the US Flag.

As to where the color scheme of our flag is based, it’s no coincidence that it bears similarities to the British flag which was made a century earlier in 1606.

Misconception 9: Wearing Clothes With An Image Of The US Flag Is Illegal

The US flag code is developed in 1923, and recognized as law by the US Congress in 1942, to guide civilians on the proper usage and handling of our country’s primary national symbol. However, the US flag code is not enforceable. And our government does not have flag police to apprehend anyone who has violated the flag code.

Hence, wearing of clothes having the US flag image or design similarities cannot be considered illegal since the wearer may only like to express his/her patriotism to others by putting on an outfit with a red, white, & blue color scheme. And this is also applicable to other items like caps, pants, shorts, shoes, sunglasses, bags, and etc.

Misconception 10: All US Flags Must Be American Made

And finally on this list of myths about the real American flag is there is no federal law or government mandate that prohibits importation. Hence, the US flag can be made in other countries as long as it follows the exact specifications set by the DDD-F-416F Federal Specification Flag. But if you’re planning to buy a high-quality American flag made in USA, you can check out today.