The Continental Congress enacted the Flag Act of 1777 during the American Revolution, declaring that our country's first national symbol would feature stripes and stars. Although the number of stars on our flag increased with the addition of each state, the colors never changed.
Continental Congress never explained its choice of red, white and blue for America's flag. It did, however, choose white stars on a blue background to represent a new constellation. Historians speculate that the colors reflect the country's British heritage; others cite an interpretation attributed to George Washington that white stood for breaking ties with Britain, red came from the British flag and blue symbolized the sky. However, President Ronald Reagan offered his own interpretation of Old Glory's color symbolism when he declared 1986 to be the Year of the Flag: "Red for courage and readiness to sacrifice; white for pure intentions and high ideals; and blue for vigilance and justice."
- Tim Boyle/Getty Images News/Getty Images