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Patriotic Flags with Kit Hinrichs

Martha Stewart Living Television

There's no symbol more patriotic in our country than the American flag. Kit Hinrichs, author of "Long May She Wave," is passionate about the stars and stripes and has been collecting flags and flag memorabilia for more than 40 years.

The American flag has evolved for hundreds of years. We've had 27 different official flags in our country's history. However, there are thousands of unofficial flags. This shows our spirit as a continually evolving society. The Continental Congress resolved in 1777 that "the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be 13 stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation." People interpreted those requirements in many ways. More stars and stripes were added to the flag as new states joined the union. After 1812, only stars were added.

Here are some descriptions of the inspiring examples from Kit's book.

13-Star Flag
The 13 stars represent the original 13 colonies.

36-Star Flag
This flag with 36 stars is from the end of the Civil War. The stars are sewn on only one side. The cornerstone of Kit's collection is a 36-star flag that was hand-sewn in 1865 by his great-great-great-Aunt Ida Pepperkorn.

37-Star Flag
This is the centennial flag, called the Nebraska flag, circa 1867. Flags were named for the last state that entered the Union if it was a single state, rather than a group of states. These weren't official names, but rather probably used only by that particular state.

Rodger's Battle Flag
This flag, which was hand-sewn by Captain Rogers in 1861, just before the Civil War, flew on one of the ironsides boats and was captured in the Korean conflict of 1871. Written on flag for the Marines is "By Land or by Sea."

Whipple Flag
From 1912, this flag is very rare. Its stars formed in a circular pattern; the interior group represents the 13 colonies, the circle surrounding the center represents the number of states in the Union at the time of the centennial, and the last circle represents the states since added.