Some might say that the United States of America was born 243 years ago when the 13 original colonies declared independence from Great Britain. Since then, the nation’s flag has gone through its own phases of development.
The American flag was born with stripes, but it did not always have stars. The first flag of the U.S., known as the Grand Union Flag, beared the 13 red and white stripes similar to the current American flag.
But instead of the stars we are familiar with today, the upper left corner of the Grand Union Flag bears a striking similarity to the flag of Great Britain known as the Union Jack.
In 1777, the Second Continental Congress decided that “the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white,” according to the Journals of the Continental Congress. And with that, the stars began to shine on the flag and their numbers grew over the years as the U.S. expanded its territory.
In 2019, the flag symbolizes many different things for those in the U.S. For some, it stands for freedom and liberty with its bold red and blue. Others, however, view the same red and blue as spilled blood and tainted skies.
To gauge how perceptions of the American flag vary, News-Press reporters approached folks on the streets of Santa Barbara to ask one question, “What does the American flag mean to you?”
“Symbolic speech” — T.J.
“Freedom” — Patty
“Our symbol of having the land of the freedom.” —HIlary Ruston
“Nationalism. It distinguishes us from other nations. It represents the sea, land and territory.” — Kate Ruston
“Fireworks” — Mohammed Mousa
“Liberty, North America, freedom” — Michelle Car
“Denim jeans, fireworks, Budlight, pretzels” — Rosemary Gonzalez
“I would like it to mean freedom, but unfortunately it doesn’t always mean that. I want all people to be free.” — Jean Armistead
“Colonialism. I just think about the 13 colonies.” — Shayan Shafii
“The idealistic America. Freedom, rights and stuff like that. We’re generally kind of on the right path. It’s something that takes a while. We’re not there yet.” — Alex Wittman
“I don’t know.” — Anonymous
“Its history of wanting to create your own country. Symbolic of a creation of a nation.” — Anonymous
“Liberty and freedom.”- Albert Garcia
“I feel so proud and I feel freedom,” — Gloria Cadelario
“It’s a representation of the most awesome country in the world. It makes you proud to live here,” — Evaun Mawyer
“Respect, honor,” — Dave Charles
“Too many young people have died for the flag and it’s not worth waving it around,” — Marc P.
“It means freedom, it means safety, it means love of country,” — Carmen Beeche
“It means liberty and freedom and because I am an immigrant, I believe immigrants should come to this country legally,” — Rodrigo Beeche
“To me it doesn’t represent the international corporate America, it means the working class of America,” — Beau Bradbury
“Symbol of the country,” — Art W.
“Democracy for all, for the poor and the rich,” — Cynthia Hansen
“It makes you think of the dead, of the soldiers who died for the flag,” — Richard Hansen
“I think it stands for the traditional vision of America. Freedom, capitalism, and seeing the rewards of your hard work,” — Mike Schell
“I love the 4th of July. It represents the country and a good time.” — Lila
“It doesn’t represent anything right now. WIth Trump, deportations of families, there is nothing to be patriotic about.” — Monica
“Family, friends, and celebration of America.” — Edward
“Fireworks and U.S Independence Day.” — Seema
“A lot of memories as a kid, takes me back to when I was a kid and played with fireworks. It just means memories.” — Dan.
“Fireworks and barbecue. Also a day off!” — Dominic
“Vacation” — Lisa
“Fireworks!” — Miles
“Vacation, I guess.” — Karen
“Independence” — Miriam
“It’s just an excuse for us to party.”
“Freedom and rights. Flag symbolizes the rights that everyone has that can’t be taken away.” — Frank Richards
It symbolizes the soldiers who fought for this country. If the flag touches the floor, you have to burn it.” — Josh Guinto
“It’s scary what we’re doing with it now. It should be upside down most of the time.” — Anonymous