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The U.S. flag is the third oldest of the national standards of the world; older than the Union Jack of Britain or the Tricolor of France.

The flag was authorized by Congress June 14, 1777. This date is now observed as Flag Day throughout the United States. The flag was first flown from Fort Stanwix, on the site of the present city of Rome, N.Y., on Aug. 3, 1777. It was first under fire three days later in the Battle of Oriskany, Aug. 6, 1777.

The flag’s red is for valor, zeal and fervency; the white for hope, purity, cleanliness of life and rectitude of conduct; the blue, the color of heaven, for reverence to God, loyalty, sincerity, justice and truth.

The constellation of stars within the union, one star for each state, is emblematic of the federal Constitution, which reserves to states their individual sovereignty except as to rights delegated by them to the federal government. The symbolism of the flag was interpreted by George Washington: "We take the stars from heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white strips, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing Liberty."

Source: "Flag of the United States," the American Legion Auxiliary brochure that Harriet Clabough gives to youth groups when she talks about the flag.

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