Student TripsWashington D.C.

Flags of Washington D.C. Trivia

By March 18, 2013 January 22nd, 2015 No Comments
It’s time for a little Washington D.C. flag trivia!

Q. What is the inspiration for the flag of Washington D.C.?

Flag Washington D.C.

Flag of Washington DC (photo

Washington Coat of Arms

Washington Coat of Arms (photo

A. The flag design  of Washington D.C. is based on the George Washington family coat of arms, which dates to 16th-century Sulgrave, England. The symbolism of the colors and design is unknown. A flag for the District of Columbia was not advanced until after World War I. The flag design by Charles Dunn was chosen by the Evening Star newspaper in February 1924. A special flag commission was established by act of the U.S. Congress in 1938.  The flag was first flown on October 23, 1938. Learn more.


Q. True or False: The American flag flies above the White House whenever the president is in town.

Flag over White House

A. False.  The flag above the White House flies 24 hours a day.

Q. True or False: The American flag flies above the Senate or House of Representatives whenever the Senate or House is in session?

Flag over Senate

A flag flies over the Senate chamber at the US Capitol

A. True! Whenever the Senate or the House of Representatives is in session, the American flag flies above the respective chamber’s roof.  If sessions last into the night, a lantern at the top of the Capitol dome is lit. On average, over 100,000 flags fly over the Capitol each year due to the Capitol Flag Program. This program allows a member of Congress to request a flag be flown over the Capitol on behalf of a constituent. The flag is then given to the constituent. Read more.

Q. Where can you find the original Star-Spangled Banner, the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the song that would become our national anthem?

Flag Star Spangled Banner

The Star-Spangled Banner (photo

A. The Star-Spangled Banner has been on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History since 1964. The flag was flown over Fort McHenry on the morning of September 14, 1814 to signal American victory over the British in the Battle of Baltimore. The sight of the flag that morning inspired Francis Scott Key to write the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner”, what would become our national anthem. Fort McHenry was under the command of Major George Armistead, who arrived in Baltimore in June 1813. Mary Pickersgill, a Baltimore flag maker, was commission by Armistead to make two flags for the fort. The larger of the two flags, measuring 30 by 42 ft, was the Star-Spangled Banner. Mary was assisted by her thirteen-year-old daughter Caroline; nieces Eliza Young (thirteen) and Margaret Young (fifteen); and a thirteen-year-old African American indentured servant, Grace Wisher. Pickersgill and her assistants spent about seven weeks making the two flags. Learn more.

Q. How many stars are on the flag at the US Marine Corps War Memorial?

Flag Marine Corp MemorialA. 50 stars are on the flag.  At the time of the flag raising at Iwo Jima during World War II,  however, only 48 states were part of the United States. The flag has 50 stars because this memorial is dedicated to all Marines who have fought in wars both past and present. Learn more.

Q. When is the flag at the Marine Corps Memorial taken down?

A. Never, it flies 24 hours a day, every day. The Marine Corps Memorial and the White House are among the places authorized to fly 24 hours a day. The other locations include Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, Flag House Square,On the Green of the Town of Lexington, Massachusetts, Washington Monument, United States Customs Ports of Entry, and the Grounds of the National Memorial Arch in Valley Forge State Park. Learn more.

Q. What flag changes any time a foreign dignitary is visiting the White House?

Blair-Lee House

Blair-Lee House

A. The flag outside of the Blair Lee house, the official guest house of the White House, changes to the flag of the country of the visiting dignitary. When a dignitary is not visiting, the American flag flies at the Blair Lee house. Learn more.


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