Happy Independence Day, America!

We know you’re celebrating the nation’s birthday with parties and fireworks today, but we’ve got a bit of trivia to stoke your patriotism. Do you know how the U.S. flag received its distinguished nickname of Old Glory? We did some digging and found out!

The first American flag to don the name “Old Glory” was made by Captain William Driver in 1824. He proudly flew the handsewn flag on his ship in which he circled the globe twice. Displaying it on patriotic holidays thereafter, Driver gave the sea-weathered flag a name befitting its role as a symbol of liberty and justice.

USPS00STA026KThe original flag Driver made contained 24 stars on a field of blue. In 1861, he remade the tattered flag with 34 stars, reflecting the addition of ten states to the Union sincFlagsSeasons-2013-Forever-block4-BGv2e his first flag was created. The story of Old Glory, which survived the Civil War in Confederate Tennessee sewn into a quilt, became a legend and the name was soon adopted for all American flags.

Celebrate Independence Day this year with the patriotic A Flag for All Seasons Forever® stamps. They are available and in Post Offices nationwide, or you can call (). Like the flag pictured on them, these stamps are good forever.

Celebrating the Stars and Stripes on Flag Day

It’s Flag Day and we’re showing our love for the red, white, and blue by proudly “displaying” the four beautiful A Flag for All Seasons Forever® stamps—and by looking into the history of this patriotic holiday, of course!

Celebrated every year on June 14, Flag Day commemorates the Continental Congress’ adoption of the Stars and Stripes as America’s national flag on June 14, 1777. Bernard J. Cigrand, a school teacher in Waubeka, Wisconsin, is credited with the first observation of this important day. On June 14, 1885, Cigrand displayed a small American flag on his desk and had his students write essays on the flag and its significance.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson officially named June 14 Flag Day, establishing a national tradition of honoring this powerful symbol. Each year, parades and ceremonial recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance ring in the holiday as millions of Americans fly the flag outside their homes and businesses.

What will your community be doing to celebrate Old Glory today?

The four are a great way to show your patriotism. They can be purchased in Post Offices nationwide or online at usps.com/stamps. You can also order them by calling ().

Five Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Respecting the Flag

FlagsSeasons-2013-Forever-block4-BGv2Just a few weeks ago, USPS issued . These four stamps show the U.S. flag at full staff in each season of the year, but did you know there’s a lot more ceremony to respecting Old Glory than making sure she can withstand the elements? In preparation for Flag Day (which is this Friday), we did a little research.

The National Flag Code—the basis for a 1942 federal law that provides specific rules for the use and display of the flag—includes a long list of guidelines for how citizens should show their respect for the Stars and Stripes. Several of these rules are well-known to most, but some are more obscure. Here are five things you may not know about handling the flag:

  • The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.
  • The flag should never be displayed with the union down, expect as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
  • The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever.
  • No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform (except in the case of military personnel, firefighters, and police officers).
  • The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

Check out the United States Code for more information about the proper ways to display the Stars and Stripes in every season.

Each envelope in this set features a different, affixed A Flag For All Seasons (Forever®) stamp and an official First Day of Issue color postmark. Click the image for details.

A Flag for All Seasons Forever® stamps are currently and in Post Offices nationwide. You can also order them by calling ().

Add Some “Stars” to Your Collection

PatrioticStar-single-slideshowThe 46-cent Patriotic Star stamp—which is designed to look like it is crafted from striped ribbon—is just the latest in a line of stamps to feature the five-pointed star. Here are five others you may want to add to your collection.

The 50-Star Runway Air Mail stamp was released in 1968 and featured a rectangular array of white stars on a red background. Three years later, USPS issued a stamp in anticipation of the 1976 Bicentennial celebration. It featured the Bicentennial logo: a red, white, and blue star.

1968 1971 pairThe USA Circle of Stars stamp (1981) and the 2002 Graphic Star stamp also featured the five-pointed star. And we can’t forget the lovely little Patriotic Quill and Inkwell stamp issued in 2011.

1981 2002 2011 groupThe Patriotic Star stamp was issued March 19, 2013, as a First-Class Rate Large Coil stamp. It is currently available online and in Post Offices around the country.

This striking First Day Cover features an affixed Patriotic Star stamp and an official First Day of Issue color postmark. Click the image for details.

What are the “stars” in your collection?

Patriotic Forever® Stamped Envelope Coming in 2013

Let the red, white, and blue fly with a new stamped envelope for 2013. If you’ve never used a stamped envelope before, it’s a handy invention consisting of an envelope with the stamp art printed right on the paper. Tuck a few in your briefcase or purse, and you’ll never be without a quick way to mail a letter!

FolkArtEagle-2013-Forever-envelope-TC-BGv1This stamped envelope features a photograph of a carved American eagle wall plaque. The carver is unknown, though the plaque is reminiscent of John H. Bellamy’s style. The eagle is carrying two United States flags and a shield. The original pine carving is 30 inches tall and 38 inches wide, and probably came from coastal New England. It is finished with red, white, and blue paint and appears to have the original gilding. This photograph was featured on the cover of The American Folk Art Collection of Sandy and Julie Palley (January 2002), an auction catalog.

The Folk Art Eagle envelope will be issued at the Forever® rate later this year. As with Forever® stamps, the value of the postage on Forever® stamped envelopes is always equal to the value of the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate. Stamped envelopes are available in three standard sizes: #10 regular and window, #9 regular and window, and #6-3/4 regular and window.