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Display of the Flag
The flag of the United States receives the position of highest honor in a display of flags. When other international flags are present, they are arranged in alphabetical order. All international flags are to be flown from staffs that are the same size as the U.S. Flag. International protocol does not permit the flag of any nation flying above any other nation during peacetime.
State flags are arranged in the order of admittance to the Union.
The U.S. Flag
The first flag resolution was passed by Congress on June 14, 1777. There was no prescribed arrangement of the stars in the union (blue field). The Betsy Ross flag is just one example of how the stars were arranged.
With the admittance of Vermont and Kentucky, Congress passed a resolution prescribing that future flags would show a star and stripe for each state. This flag was the flag that flew over Fort McHenry when Francis Scott Key watched the British bombardment. After the War of 1812, the current pattern was adopted, with one star for each state and a stripe for the each of original 13 states. However, it was not until 1912 that a formal arrangement of the stars was prescribed.
When a new state is admitted to the Union, it is represented on the flag on the 4th of July following its admittance. The President, by proclamation, directs the arrangement of the stars in the Union.
U.S. Flag Code - This is the compendium of laws and Presidential proclamations that constitute the laws governing the display, use and care of our National flag. Also available a PDF version of the flag code edited (46 KB) from the Government Printing Office official version of the U.S. Code for viewing, printing and download. Requires the free Adobe Acrobat Reader 3.0. To get Acrobat Reader, visit Adobe Systems website (http://www.adobe.com).
National Flag Foundation - One of the many organizations dedicated to providing information about our flag.
Citizens Flag Alliance - This organization is sponsored by many fraternal and veterans groups to preserve the integrity of the U.S. Flag and to prevent its desecration.
The Maryland Flag
The flag of Maryland is one of the most unique in the country. Its pattern represents the coat of arms of the Calvert and Crossland families (Lord Baltimore's paternal and maternal families respectively). The flag was first flown during the 1880s and was adopted as the state flag in 1904. The Calvert arms are gold and black diamonds centered on the corners, the Crossland arms a red and white Greek cross.
The office of the Maryland Secretary of State is responsible for educational information on the Maryland Flag Protocol. Visit the site for more information.
Vexillology is the study of the meaning and history of flags. If you are interested in flags, may we recommend a few sites:
Flags of the World - One of the best resources for flag information, including several thousand flag gifs in color. You can also access one of the mirror sites, including the mirror site in Glen Burnie, MD.
For up to the minute information about flags across the world, you can consult the Flag Newswire.
Two Vexillological associations in the U.S. have web sites. For information you about vexillology you can contact the North American Vexillological Association or the New England Vexillological Association (for some illustrations on historical U.S. flags, see the NEVA Journal on-line).
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