How much do you know about the history of the U.S. flag?

By: John Miller

How much do you know about the history of the U.S. flag?
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

The American flag is one of the most recognizable national symbols on Earth. The Red, White and Blue has a long and storied background. How much do you know about the history of the United States flag?
The American flag currently has ______ horizontal stripes.
5
13
The current U.S. flag has 13 horizontal stripes. The red stripes and white stripes are different lengths, but they're are all of equal width.
50

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What do the 13 horizontal stripes represent?
13 types of guns
13 colonies
The 13 horizontal stripes, which alternate red and white, represent the 13 British colonies that decided to declare their independence from England. For the British, they were 13 stripes of doom.
13 reasons why America is awesome

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The first American flag was introduced during which major event?
during the American Revolution
The founders of the U.S. adopted the first American flag in 1777, in the middle of the American Revolution. That first flag had 13 stripes and 13 stars.
during the Civil War
during the Mexican-American War

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The flag first became known as "The Star-Spangled Banner" during which conflict?
Persian Gulf War
War of 1812
During the War of 1812, British ships bombarded Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor, and lawyer Francis Scott Key witnessed the spectacle. He wrote a poem that eventually became known as "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Enron scandal

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What was one of the most interesting traits of the "Star-Spangled Banner" flag flown as the British attacked Fort McHenry during the War of 1812?
it was bulletproof
it was really big
The original Star-Spangled Banner was purposely big -- 42 feet wide and 30 feet tall. Why? Intimidation. It was so big that the British could see it from a long, long way off.
it was red, white and purple

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The famous Star-Spangled Banner flag is on display at a Smithsonian museum. Why is it missing big chunks of fabric?
it was used as napkins
the British set it on fire
people hacked out pieces as souvenirs
After the War of 1812, many people cut pieces from the famous flag as souvenirs. Its 42-foot length is now around 30 feet.

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Why did the famous Star-Spangled Banner disappear from its museum exhibit in 1998?
for a restoration project
The iconic flag required a restoration process. Many cleaning experts and scientists spent nearly a decade working on the flag, at a cost of more than $20 million.
it was stolen
Donald Trump bought it

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True or false, a seamstress named Betsy Ross made the first American Flag?
true
false
A long-standing legend has it that a Pennsylvania woman named Betsy Ross designed and made the first American flag. But historians have decided that the Ross legend is simply that -- a story that was made up decades after the Revolution.

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After Vermont and Kentucky became states, the flag had 15 stripes. So why did it eventually revert back to 13?
they were worried that they'd have to keep adding stripes
Fifteen stripes seemed OK … but once the U.S. kept adding states, it was clear that there were going to be too many stripes. So flag designers reverted to 13 and it's been that way ever since.
the stripes made Americans look fat
they ran out of stripes

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What do the stars on the flag represent?
U.S. states
The stars represent U.S. states. The modern flag features 50 of them.
U.S. territories
dead Communists

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The current flag has been in use since 1960, after the creation of which U.S. state?
Hawaii
Hawaii is the most recent U.S. territory to achieve statehood. It was introduced into the Union (with what we're sure was a smashing luau) in 1959.
Rhode Island
Texas

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Who designed the current American flag?
a high school student
In 1958, as part of a high school project, a student named Robert G. Heft designed the current flag. He got a B- grade on the project, but it was eventually adopted by the United States Congress.
Wal-Mart
a Brit

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Which of the following is NOT a nickname for the American flag?
The Stars and Stripes
Old Glory
The Stars and Bars
The flag is often called Old Glory, The Stars and Stripes or just simply Red, White and Blue.

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The Flag Protection Act was enacted during which tumultuous era?
American Revolution
Vietnam era
In the late 1960s a lot of Vietnam War protesters took to burning and mutilating American flags, so the government passed the Flag Protection Act, a bit of law that would later create a lot of controversy.
Trump era

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A 19th-century American sea captain was the first to name his flag Old Glory. What did he say to Confederate soldiers who tried to take it during the Civil War?
"Over my dead body."
A sea captain named William Driver counted "Old Glory" as his most prized possession. When Rebel soldiers demanded the flag, he wasn't intimidated. He simply said, "Over my dead body," and then hid it, and the Confederates never seized the banner.
"Do you want fries with that?"
"Please take it, I have more."

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The red color of the flag's stripes does NOT symbolize which of the following?
valor
blood of American enemies
The color red doesn't signify blood in any way. It's meant to represent hardiness and valor. White symbolizes purity and innocence. And the blue stands for vigilance, perseverance and justice.
hardiness

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NASA astronauts often take flags during space missions. How many U.S. flags are there on the moon?
1
6
NASA has planted one U.S. flag for each moon landing -- so six in all. Of those six, five of those are still standing tall on the windless lunar surface.
the whole moon is a giant U.S. flag

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There are six American flags on the moon, and five of them are still standing. There's no wind on the moon, so why is one of them laying in the moon dust?
let's just say Neil Armstrong is a klutz
a spacecraft knocked it over
Apollo 11 was the spacecraft that carried the first men to the moon. Exhaust from the moon lander is probably the reason that the first American flag fell over.
Communist aliens

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In 1963, the first American flag ever was flown on top of which big mountain?
Mount Kilimanjaro
Mount Everest
In 1953, British climber Edmund Hilary and Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay were the first men to summit Mount Everest. Ten years later, the first American, Barry Bishop, planted the first U.S. flag atop the world's tallest summit.
Mount Rushmore

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What does Flag Day celebrate?
the end of the Soviet Union
the adoption of the flag
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson officially established Flag Day. Celebrated each June 14, it commemorates the adoption of the first national flag in 1777.
the end of the Third Reich

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Government rules indicate that flags may be decorated with ______ so long as it doesn't interfere with the flag's appearance.
pirate symbols
gold fringe
It's legal for flag makers to dress up American flags with golden fringe, so long as the fringe doesn't drastically alter the flag's overall look. These flags are most often seen in ritzy settings like official government buildings.
kitty pictures

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True or false, the arrangement of the flag's stars have always been officially standardized?
true
false
Believe it or not, the arrangement of the stars was never standardized until the adoption of the 48-star flag. Until then, the stars could essentially be placed willy-nilly all over the blue box.

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If an American flag becomes dirty or soiled, what are you supposed to do with the flag?
burn it
wash it
No patriotic citizen wants to see a dirty flag flapping in the breeze. Tradition holds that it's acceptable to lower a flag and then launder it to bring back the glory of the Red, White and Blue.
fly it upside down

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From 1837 to 1845, the U.S. flag had 26 stars in a specific pattern. What was that pattern?
a big star
The so-called Great Star flag was unique in American flag history. It arranged the 26 stars in a distinctive star pattern that's rarely been used in the flag's design.
a large cannon
Mickey Mouse ears

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The current 50-star flag is the longest-used design in history. The second-longest used flag had how many stars?
1
48
The second-longest used design was adopted in 1912, and it featured 48 stars. It survived for 47 years, until Alaska became a state in 1959. Its stars were typically aligned in nice, neat rows and columns.
52

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In 2006, the Flag Desecration Amendment was proposed. What was another name for this amendment?
Flag-burning Amendment
A lot of people get mad when they see American flags being ruined, one reason the Flag Desecration Amendment (or Flag-burning Amendment) was introduced in 2006. The measure was defeated by a single vote in the Senate.
Flag-flying Amendment
Flag-grilling Amendment

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True or false, is it legal to burn an American flag inside the borders of the U.S.?
true
There are no laws against burning U.S. flags. So if you're mad at your local representative, you're totally free to desecrate a flag in his or her honor.
false

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When the flag is on display during a parade or review, what are Americans in the vicinity supposed to?
put their right hands over their hearts
When a flag is displayed for showy purposes, Americans are supposed to stop and put their right hands over their hearts.
put their right hands over their eyes
strangle the nearest Communist

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Since 1777, there have been _______ versions of the American flag.
3
26
Since 1777, the country has transformed itself many times, and with the acquisition of new territory, the flag had to change, too. There have been 27 different American flags.
666

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True or false, the American flag is the oldest continuously used national flag in the world?
true
false
Don't get too cocky, Americans, Old Glory isn't even close to being the oldest flag. The flag of Denmark, first flown in the early 1300s, is the oldest national flag on Earth.

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