ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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"Stars and Stripes" Shine on Flag Day

New York, Jun 14, 2002

If Betsy Ross, legendary designer of the first American flag, were alive today, Flag Day, she would have a much easier time sewing the "Stars and Stripes" thanks to the Department of Defense standard (DDD-F-416E) that details the exact requirements of its design and construction.

Government specifications for the American flag's composition include acceptable materials such as cotton, nylon or wool bunting; star design applications such as "stand alone" appliqués, Swiss hand loom embroidery or Schiffli embroidered stars; the types of threads that may be used in its construction such as cotton, polyester or silk; and the necessary accouterments such as grommets, hooks, cords, tassels and fringe. And last but not least-and sure to elicit Betsy's sigh of relief-the step-by-step instructions on the flag's design including the exact dimensions of the 13 horizontal stripes and the configuration of the fifty stars arranged in nine alternating rows--five rows of six and four rows of five--on a blue field.

Officially adopted by the Continental Congress on June 14th, 1777, government buildings are required and citizens are urged to display the American flag in observance of the flag's anniversary. Today, modern patriots and government agencies that wish to hoist the flag properly will require the Guide Specifications for Design of Metal Flagpoles Manual (ANSI/NAAMM FP 100197) developed by the National Association of Architectural Metal Manufacturers, an ANSI member and ANSI accredited standards developer. The guide offers comprehensive directions on determining wind pressure, correct flag loading techniques and stress analysis procedures. NAAMM, a trade association representing manufacturers of a wide range of metal products, also provides the Metal Flagpole Manual that includes tables, illustrations and specifications on pole types, materials, fabrication and finishes.

The American flag has come a long way since 1776 when the Grand Union, as it was called then, was first unfurled at the headquarters of Continental Army. Our national "standard" has undergone more design transitions than any other flag in the world. The moniker, "Stars and Stripes," first appeared when Betsy Ross and George Washington allegedly collaborated on the "13 stars and stripes theme" in an effort to differentiate it from the British "Union Jack." Attributed to George Washington, the well-known quote below provides the basis for our forefather's (and -mother's) design theory as well as a perfect ending for Flag Day.

"We take the stars from heaven, the red from our mother country, separate it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her…"

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