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Independence Day was established to mark the approval of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
On that day, the Second Continental Congress approved the declaration, which told the British that the 13 American colonies would no longer be theirs to govern and explained why.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” the declaration read.
A year later, the new nation had a flag.
A resolution declared it would have 13 stripes — one for each colony — in alternating red and white and 13 stars, “white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” As more states were added to the union, the constellation grew.
According to PBS, the colors of the flag also represent the country’s values: red for hardiness and valor, white for purity and innocence, and blue for vigilance, perseverance and justice.
The flag has a storied history. Many believe it was first sewn by Betsy Ross in Philadelphia, and in 1814 it inspired our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The flag even got the nickname “Old Glory” when a giant version of the flag survived multiple attacks at sea during the Civil War.
Color in this flag and think: what has the flag represented in your own life? Do the colors mean things like valor and justice to you, or do they mean something else? If you were designing the nation’s flag, what colors and images would you choose? Draw your own version on a blank piece of paper if you’re inspired.