National flags are not merely symbols of a country. Their colors and
designs convey past history and future goals. Flags have powerful connotations（内涵）. They speak to the people and
politicians. People of one country will burn the flag of another with
whose politics they do not agree. To show their anger, students display
their own nation's flags with the design altered or cut out completely.
Dictators fly flags; dissidents（持不同政见者） rip
them down. In every country of the world, the treatment of a flag displays
an opinion or statement.
Americans take the treatment of their flag seriously and in the 20th
century this has become an important issue. Included in the code of ethics
are such rules as the national flag cannot be used for advertising. It
cannot cover a monument or any ceilings. It must not be folded while being
displayed. No one should write on an American flag. Ships can lower their
flags slightly in greeting each other, but otherwise should not be dipped
for any other object or person.
In the late 1960s, American students wore small flags sewn to the back
of their jeans, symbolically insulting the American government and
protesting its involvement in the Vietnam War. They burned the American
flag in front of the Capitol Building（国会大厦）in
Washington as a statement of protest. In the early 1990s, senators
suggested an amendment to the Constitution（宪法）that would make this treatment of
the flag illegal. The proposition（提议、议案）was
opposed because many others felt that this change would be a violation of
Americans' constitutional rights to express their opinions freely.
For all the controversy it is interesting to point out that the United
States did not even have a standardized flag until 1912! Called the "Stars
and Stripes," or "Old Glory," the flag is one of the most complicated in
the world. No other flag needs 64 pieces of fabric to make. The current
flag has 13 red and white alternating（交互的）stripes (representing the original
13 states) and 50 stars (each star represents one of the states of the
Union) on a blue background.
The American flag has also changed designs more than any other flag in
the world. The first flag, called the Grand Union, was first flown at the
headquarters of the Continent Army on January 1, 1776. Betsy Ross, a seamstress(女裁缝), is said to have contributed to
this design. She had an upholstery（室内装潢）business which made flags for navy
ships in Pennsylvania. A legend still persists that she showed George
Washington how to make a five-pointed star and suggested thirteen stars in
a circle for the first flag. Her descendants claimed that she offered the
design. Actually, she and George Washington never met! George Washington
did design the Grand Union.
On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress proposed that the United
States have a national flag instead of the British Union Jack. The 13
stars of the flag represented the 13 new states. There were few public
ceremonies honoring the Stars and Stripes until 1877, when on, June 14, it
was flown from every government building in honor of the centennial（百年纪念）of the adoption of a national flag.
Schools had unfurled（展示）American flags over
their doors or outside the buildings long before this; but in 1890, North
Dakota and New Jersey made a law that required their schools to fly the
flag daily. The first official Flag Day was observed in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania in 1893. New York also proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day 1897.
Other states were slow to follow. Some people thought that the day was too
close to Memorial Day and Independence Day.
In August 1949, President Harry S. Truman proclaimed June 14 as Flag
Day. Since then the President proclaims the commemoration（纪念会）yearly, and encourages all
Americans in the country to display the Stars and Stripes outside their
homes and businesses. Individual states determine how they will observe
the day. In Pennsylvania and American Samoa it is a public holiday.
Usually the flag is flown from all public buildings, speeches are made in
public places and ceremonies take place in towns or cities