Why is it Called Old Glory?
It was Captain Stephen Driver (Massachusetts) who christened the flag as such in 1831. As he was about to board his ship, Driver took with him the 24 star flag his mother made. As it was hoisted up, he said, “Old glory!” The nickname stuck and all other subsequent flags became known by that name.
He returned in 1837 to Tennessee. He kept it hidden under his bed so it wouldn’t get destroyed. In 1852, Driver went to the state capitol and the flag was raised up. In this respect, the meaning of the US flag denotes triumph against adversity.
What the Stars and Colors Signify
The stars symbolize the states, with the stripes denoting the 13 that rose up against the British Crown. It’s not clear why five pointed stars were chosen. Some believe that it represents hope.
The colors have many meanings. Red has always stood for bravery, blue for peace and white for justice and freedom. Through the years various symbolisms have been applied to the colors. Red has come to symbolize blood and sacrifice. This refers to the Patriots who fought and died. Blue on the other hand also signifies peace, and the skies.
The meaning of the US flag’s white color is also subject to interpretation. No doubt it signifies justice, but some historians believe that it connotes the secession from the British Empire. Some also look at white as a sign of purity and love for God.
Some Americans see Old Glory and believe that it has a deeper and more spiritual meaning. The red color symbolizes the human blood. This doesn’t just refer to those who died in the war. It also refers to all Americans in whose veins run the lifeblood of the nation. The red color is also synonymous with the heart. In this sense the red also denotes love.
The white color represents the light. Some call it God, perfection or the highest state. In this respect, the meaning of the US flag (not just the white) is about pure ideals. The blue on the other hand, signifies tranquility amidst constant turmoil.
Meaning for the Individual
For others, there is no set or fixed meaning. Every American has the right to view it in his or her own way. The freedom to look at the flag any which way you want is absolute. There is no law that says you have to respect it.
In this sense, it has come to represent the essence of freedom. The flag allows everyone to interpret it in the way they see fit.
Old Glory has gone through a lot. In fact there are those who’ll probably say that in some ways the country has strayed from the best ideals. But wherever the country is headed, the meaning of the US flag remains true: it is dedicated to truth, justice and freedom.