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096 Why does the flag have 13 stripes?

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96. Why does the flag have 13 stripes?
Answer:
• Because there were 13 original colonies
• Because the stripes represent the original colonies

Explanation:
The U.S. flag is often called the Stars and Stripes, because those words describe what the flag looks like. The flag has 13 stripes, which are horizontal lines (or lines that run from left to right). The stripes alternate between red and white, meaning that first there is a red stripe, then a white stripe, then another red stripe, and so on. The upper left-hand corner is a smaller blue rectangle with 50 white stars, which are objects with five points.

The U.S. flag has a lot of symbolism, meaning that it uses images to present ideas. For example, the symbolism of the 50 stars is that there is one star for each state. The 50 stars are identical, having the same size and shape. This symbolizes the equality (or sameness) of the states, with no state having more power or importance than any other state.

The symbolism of the 13 stripes is that each stripe represents one of the original 13 colonies, or the original pieces of land that were owned by Great Britain. After the Revolutionary War, each of the colonies became one state in the new United States.

Some people think that the flag’s colors have symbolism, too. They often say that the white stripes symbolize purity or goodness, the red stripes symbolize strength and courage (or bravery and not being afraid), and the stars symbolize heaven (or the place where Christians believe God lives and where good people go when they die). But the founding fathers did not give special meaning to the colors of the flag. Those meanings were created after the flag had already been adopted (or chosen to be used) by the U.S. government.

Sometimes the flag is decorated (or made to look especially nice) for special events. At these times, a gold fringe is put around the flag, which is a lot of short
gold-colored threads (or pieces of string). The U.S. flag with gold fringe is sometimes seen in parades, which are celebrations where many people walk down the street slowly, often with flags.

Glossary

horizontal – from right to left, not up and down
* In a spreadsheet, columns are vertical and rows are horizontal.

to alternate – to change between two different things, back and forth
* Her emotions alternated between joy and sadness many times during the day.

symbolism – representation of an idea or thing by a picture or image
* Did you find very much symbolism in the book?

purity – wholeness and goodness, without being mixed with anything else
* We expect medicines to have extremely high purity.

courage – bravery; not being afraid
* He showed a lot of courage when he jumped into the river to save the swimmer's life.

heaven – the place where Christians believe God lives and where good people go when they die
* Cristal's uncle died last year, but she believes that he is in heaven.

to adopt – to accept something and begin to do, use, or have it
* Delaware has adopted the peach blossom as its official state flower.

decorated – made to look especially nice by adding or attaching smaller things
* Their home is decorated with very modern furniture and artwork.

fringe – a lot of short gold-colored threads (or pieces of string) that are sewn around the edge of a piece of fabric or clothing
* Her red dress has some fringe along the bottom.

parade – a celebration where many people walk down the street slowly, often with flags.
* Did you watch the parade on New Year's Day?