Flags are symbols that can represent a lot of things, from a group of people to a geographical place. In honor of International Flag Week, let’s explore the meaning behind some of the most common categories of flags.
Did you know that June 14, 1777 marks the day the United States adopted its flag? Let’s take a look at some of the symbolism behind the American flag. For any of our readers from other countries, we encourage you to do some research on your own country’s flag, before Doodling it using our free stencils, and then share it with us on social media!
Called “Old Glory” or “The Stars and Stripes,” the American flag is made up of shapes and colors that represent our country. Fifty stars represent the 50 states of the Union, while 13 stripes represent the original 13 Colonies. Red is a symbol of hardiness; white symbolizes innocence; and blue represents vigilance, perseverance, and justice.
Overall, the flag means a lot of different things to different people. It is used to display our nationalism and to symbolize freedom. We have even established some rules on how to display the flag to ensure we’re showing it the respect we’ve ascribed to it.
The inventors of 3Doodler (Maxwell Bogue and Peter Dilworth) built the first 3Doodler prototype in Somerville, Massachusetts. As a nod to our Massachusetts roots, we’ll take a look at the flag of Massachusetts. Did you know that each state in the United States has its own flag, which represents the ideologies and history of that particular state?
In Massachusetts, the flag is white with the state’s coat of arms emblazoned on both sides — the shield depicts an Algonquian Native American holding a bow and arrow. The arrow is pointed downward to signify peace. A white star with five points appears next to the figure’s head, signifying Massachusetts as a U.S. state. Above the shield is the state military crest.
Each of these symbols means something important to residents of Massachusetts, and they display their state flag proudly.
Fun fact: State flags are typically displayed in the order they were admitted to the State of the Union.
A white flag has become representative of surrender, truce, or a desire to start to pursue negotiations.
A red flag is a metaphor for a problem that requires attention. It is also a literal flag that might symbolize danger from wildfires or dangerous water conditions at the beach. Not to mention, it indicates live fire at a shooting range.
Checkered flags are used in car races to show that a car has crossed the finish line.
Flags Representing Groups of People
Another type of flag is that which represents a group of people, such as prisoners of war (POW flag) or people of a certain religion (check out the history of the Christian flag or Tibetan prayer flags). As June is LGBTQ+ pride month, we’ve been particularly interested in exploring the LGBTQ+ pride flag, which represents lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) pride and social movements.
There are many different versions of the LGBTQ+ pride flag, and these mean different things to different people. We Doodled a version of the pride flag, below, to celebrate acceptance, equality, and inclusivity.
Activity: Design Your Own Flag
Last year, we showed learners how to create a model of their country’s flag for Flag Day. Not only did they deliver, but they made us think.
If they can create a model of their own country’s flag, what’s to stop them from creating individual flags that represent who they are as people?
Think about walking your children, students or campers through the following exercise:
- If you were to create your own flag, what would it look like?
- What colors or symbols would you use?
- What would you want your flag to represent?
After your learners have visualized and Doodled their own flags, encourage them to come together as a group to discuss what the flags mean to them. Then, string the flags together and hang them proudly in your classroom — after all, when students show us who they are, we need to celebrate that!