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American Flag

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The national flag of the United States of America (the "American flag") consists of thirteen equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton (referred to specifically as the "union") bearing fifty small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars (top and bottom) alternating with rows of five stars. The fifty stars on the flag represent the 50 states and the 13 stripes represent the original thirteen colonies that rebelled against the British monarchy and became the first states in the Union.[1] Nicknames for the flag include the "Stars and Stripes", "Old Glory,"[2] and "The Star-Spangled Banner" (also the name of the national anthem).

The flag of the United States is one of the nation's most widely recognized symbols. Within the U.S. it is frequently displayed, not only on public buildings, but on private residences. It is also used as a motif on decals for car windows, and clothing ornaments such as badges and lapel pins. Throughout the world it is used in public discourse to refer to the U.S., not only as a nation, state, government, and set of policies, but also as a set of ideals.

Apart from the numbers of stars and stripes representing the number of current and original states, respectively, and the union with its stars representing a constellation, there is no legally defined symbolism to the colors and shapes on the flag.

What Shade of Red/White/Blue

The official specification for federal procurements of U.S. flags is set by the General Services Administration. At the Defense Technology Information Center website is GSA "Federal Specification, Flag, National, United States of America and Flag, Union Jack," DDD-F-416E, dated November 27, 1981. It specifies the colors by reference to "Standard Color Cards of America" maintained by the Color Association of the United States, Inc. This is a color system designed for textile use - appropriate, since flags are made of cloth! The specifications are:
Cable No. 70180    Old Glory Red
Cable No. 70001    White
Cable No. 70075    Old Glory Blue

Various sources give different Pantone equivalencies for these colors. The most plausibly authoritative are those provided on miscellaneous American Embassy websites, including American Embassy London. It gives the red as PMS 193 and the blue as PMS 282. On the other hand, Texas state law says the Texas state flag has the same colors as the U.S. flag, and that they are red PMS193 and blue PMS281.

It should be noted that flags produced other than for the executive branch of the government are not bound by any of this.