WHAT THE AMERICAN FLAG MEANS TO ME
On June 14, 1885, Bernard J. Cigrand, a 19-year-old teacher at Stony Hill School placed a 10-inch, 38 star flag on his desk. He asked his students to write an essay in reflection of what this flag meant to them. The American Flag Day Foundation aims to keep this patriotic tradition alive.
2022 WHAT THE FLAG MEANS TO ME ESSAY CONTEST WINNERS
Olivia Schmitz – Fredonia, Wisconsin – 4th Grade – 1st Place
This is what the flag means to me. The flag means war, hard work,
perseverance, and how people gave their lives for the flag, which represents how
much they love the United States of America. The flag means peace, love, and
joy. America will always stand united and always fight for what is right in the
world, never what is wrong. The flag means to love the place you live and to
honor the ones who fought for it. It means everybody everywhere will always be
welcomed and get the same treatment as everybody else; it will not matter if your
skin is black or if it’s white. What matters most is how you are on the inside and
flag will show you that. The flag will guide you through hard times. That’s what
the flag means to me.
Desiree Jaicynth Wilson Lao – Reno, Nevada – 5th Grade – 2nd Place
The American Flag was made possible by many wonderful people that have lived
before us. The flag was made to bring freedom, liberty, and justice to our
country. People may just take a first glance at the flag and not think deeply
about what millions of soldiers had suffered through just to fight for the future’s
freedom and their family’s freedom. When I take a look, I can feel the pride and
freedom run through my veins. “United we Stand, divided we fall,” Lincoln once
said. That’s how I feel when I see the flag. It makes me feel proud of my
country. If our flag wasn’t here, I may not be standing here this very second. All
in all, I am proud and free because of our Flag.
Madi Eckhart – Neenah, Wisconsin – 8th Grade – 1st Place
To me, as to many others, the American flag symbolizes our country’s
perseverance and overcomings; the war we fought, the freedom we gained, and
the impediments yet to arise. Our flag displays the rightful freedom of our
country. It is a sign of refuge for those seeking it. It is a sign of respect for all
those who fought for our country and died a hero in doing so. It is a sign of power
in our strong leadership, non despotic; the bond that the states share as they
work together to run this country. It is a sign of home for many. The American
flag is symbolic of our country, of our strifes and overcomings, of our leadership,
of our heroes, and of our past. The American flag brings the country together,
unites fifty states as one, guides our nation through thick and thin, and carries
our country through it all. The flag will forever be the trademark of our country.
The first American flag was created by Betsy Ross in 1777. It started off with
thirteen stripes and a circle of thirteen patriotic stars in the top left corner. This
symbolized the thirteen colonies that made up our country, and the flag has since
developed with the country. Today, the flag proudly waves fifty stars, one for
every state that constructs the United States. However, these people, this land,
was not always a country. It was first under the rule of Great Britain, a powerful
country wishing nothing from the 13 colonies but their tax money. War broke out
among the colonists and Great Britain in 1775, which led to the making of a new
country: The United States of America. The rise of one country left the defeat of
another in its wake. Our flag carries the story of a journey to independence in its
stripes and flags as it elegantly waves over our victory to this day.
Our flag waves proudly today in remembrance of all those who fought for our
country. There have been countless wars our country has fought in with much
trauma endured, either to defend our own country or protect another. Many have
served in the war, and many died in doing so. The American flag waves today to
venerate the losses that we carry with us as a country, to honor and lament those
who died proudly serving our country, and display their bravery throughout the
The American flag means a lot of things to me. It showcases the trials and
triumphs our country has walked through together. It stands for a land many are
proud to call home. The flag waves to display the bravery of men and women
who fought to defend and guard our country. The American flag also tells a story.
One of how the United States of American came to be. Of the difficult war we
fought for independence, fighting sagaciously, earning our right of freedom. This
is what the American flag means to me.
Taylor Browning – Hammond, Wisconsin – 8th Grade – 2nd Place
Is the American Flag just some piece of fabric with red and white stripes, an
undersized blue box, and white stars? In contrast, is the flag something that
represents freedom and justice in our country? Everyone has a different opinion
on what the American flag truly represents for them, but most can agree with the
statement that the flag shows the true meaning of being American.
Being American does not just mean that you were born in the country and have
all the rights that you are given in the Bill of Rights and Constitution. The true
representation of being American is the American Flag and how it shows the
history all Americans went through. The hard-fought battles of all United States
soldiers and the eloquent speeches given by founding fathers, abolitionists, and
activists. The American flag not only shows the great times in history that pathed
our way, but the pain we had to feel. The exceptional gut-wrenching pain we had
to feel after the 9/11 attacks and the attack on Pearl Harbor. Each attack left
every American looking for an emblem to bring us back hope. The American flag
is the symbol that brought hope during times of pain and times of change in
The American Flag shows us not only how to be a true Americans, but how
America was built. One quote said by Harry S. Truman states, “America was not
built on fear. American was built on courage, on imagination, and an unbeatable
determination to do the job at hand.” By this quote, the American flag shows us
how to have the courage to fight for our freedom and have the determination to
get the job done and done well. The flag shows us to imagine the great times that
are coming in America and how we can keep America safe for everyone.
Courage, Imagination, and unbeatable determination are truly some of the best
ways to be a great American. This piece of fabric for some is something that just
hangs to show our country as a whole, but to me, it is the true American symbol
of life. It shows me how to be a civilized American and how I should help make
out country a better place. The American flag is not a political party emblem. It is
also not something that should be burned at the hand of somebody who claims
they love America.
Being a true American is using your courage to fight, your imagination to hope,
and unstoppable determination to get the job done to represent the flag. Being a
true American is looking at the history the flag shows us and understanding that
we have been given this freedom and we cannot take it for granted, because
some countries are struggling right now. So I leave you with the thought that, is
the American flag just some red and white stripes, an undersized blue box, and
white stars that show us justice and freedom?
Nolan Wood – Fredonia, Wisconsin – 7th Grade – 1st Place
The flag is a symbol of freedom. When I stand up for the Pledge of Allegiance
every morning and put my hand over my heart. I am thanking all of the brave
people who got drafted into the war, unknowing of what would happen overseas.
They fought for our people, they fought for our rights, our land, and most of all,
our Freedom. Our Freedom is like no one elses. Our Freedom is like nothing
any one else will ever have or know.
Our Freedom is because of that flag. Because it is still waving through the air.
Because of the brave soldiers who fought for this. They saved our flag, they
saved our Freedom. That flag with the 50 stars and 13 stripes doesn’t just
represent the land of the free, but it represents everything that has ever
happened here. It represents the good. It also represents the bad.
It represents the brave colonists who came here not knowing what terrors this
country might bring. Those brave colonists didn’t care, they built their land, they
fought against the people who tried to take all away from them. They had one
thought in mind when they fought against the ruthless British army. They were
thinking of Freedom. They were thinking of a country that is free. They didn’t
know how it would turn out, but they had one sight and they saw it through. In
conclusion, the flag means what we have been through, the freedom, and the
Jersey Borsheim – West Bend, Wisconsin – 6th Grade – 2nd Place
Did you know that there have been 27 different variations of the American flag?
The red in the flag represents valor, the white represents innocence, and the blue
represents perseverance. Flag Day is a day that honors the American Flag. Here
is what that flag means to me.
The American Flag means a lot to me. First, it represents freedom. The flag
represent the war that American soldiers sacrificed and risked their lives to win,
just to give us freedom. Second, when I look at the American Flag, it shows how
hard people fought to be who they want, and what they want. In the Pledge of
Allegiance, it does say, “With liberty and justice for all.” Another thing I see when
I look at the flag is honor. When I look at the flag, I see brave people who made
this country what it is. Lastly, I see people living happily together. The Pledge of
Allegiance does mention that our amazing country is indivisible. Historical
figures fought to make our country that way. The people who fought in the
military have served and risked their lives to bring us this world, and meant for
everyone to live happily. All in all, the American flag means very much to me.
The American Flag that Betsy Ross made on July 14, 1777, is not just a piece of
cloth, it is something that represents freedom, honor, and indivisibility. That is
what the American Flag means to me.
2022 ESSAY CONTEST
The essay contest is open to all students grades 4-12. All students in public, private, parochial, home, or virtual schools are invited and encouraged to participate. Length of the essays are:
1. 150 words in length for grades 4 and 5
2. 250 words in length for grades 6 and 7
3. 500 words in length for grades 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12
All entries must be original and should reflect on the prompt, "What does the American flag mean to me?"
Judging criteria is:
Grammar, punctuation, and spelling 20%
Please provide a cover sheet with the essay that includes the contestant’s name, grade, name of school, home address and phone number. Please note, submission of an entry indicates a consent for the winner's name, school, and home town to be published on this site. Winners will also be invited to read their essay at the Flag Day Observance in Waubeka, Wisconsin.
Prizes will be awarded to each age group (grades 4-5), (grades 6-7), and (grades 8-12) that include first place of $250 and second place prize of $125. Winners will be notified by phone.
Please submit entries by April 15, 2022 via:
firstname.lastname@example.org OR National Flag Day Observance 2021
PO Box 55
Waubeka, WI 53021
For more information contact: Pam Schlenvogt at (414)333-8778
1st Place: High School
I have noticed that lately some people don’t respect the American flag; they say the pledge of allegiance or sing the national anthem without standing and putting their hand over their heart. This bothers me because our flag deserves reverence and respect. It is a tangible symbol of how our nation was founded, what it is today, and what it will be tomorrow.
To me, the history of America is written on those white stars and crimson stripes. When I see our flag, I can almost see our founding fathers in a heated discussion over the unjust taxes England is levying on them. I see Patrick Henry slam his clenched first down on a table as he makes a passionate and eloquent plea for liberty. I see Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Samuel Prescott leaping onto their horses and riding like wildfire to warn their fellow Americans of the approaching British navy. I see Thomas Jefferson presenting the Declaration of Independence to the Continental Congress and John Hancock leaning over the document, quill in hand, as he boldly signs it in his flamboyant penmanship. I see the hush that falls over the colonies as they realize they just picked a fight with the strongest nation on earth. I see the battles that ensued, fought by brave patriots and led by the great General Washington. And I see the final battle at Yorktown, where Washington trapped the British against the Chesapeake Bay and decisively ended the war, securing independence for the fledgling United States of America.
It was almost unbelievable. There was no way on earth our untrained militia could have beaten mighty England, but we did. And the courage, spirit, and sense of justice that drove those early patriots to fight for a better tomorrow is woven into the very fabric of our American flag-red for bravery. White for purity. Blue for justice.
The flag is the history of America.
Our flag also represents America as it is today-the greatest nation ever in the history of mankind. The country where freedom rings. The country known for upholding justice, defending the oppressed, and fighting tyranny. The land that is respected by the world because of her prosperity and strength. The place where everyone, no matter what your religion or color, has equal opportunity to live the American dream.
The country I am proud to call “home.”
The future of the United States is also symbolized by the flag. You see, the story of America is still being written today-by us. It’s up to us to carry the torch of excellence passed down from the Americans before us.
During the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key penned the famous words, “O say, does that star spangled banner yet wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?” Despite having been written several hundred years ago, that same question is still relevant today. Obviously, the flag is indeed waving over our nation, but is it flying over a free and brave nation? Twenty years from now, will our flag still symbolize the greatest nation on earth? We must do all we can to ensure that it does. Each and every American has the responsibility to maintain our country’s reputation so that our flag will remain the emblem of power and greatness that it has been every since 1776.
So, in short, our flag represents the past, present, and future of the United States of America. I respect it and love it because it is the symbol of the country I respect and love. It is an honor to live under the American flag, and I hope that someday, at least in part, I can repay my wonderful country for the freedoms and opportunities I have because of it.
2nd place: High School
What does the American flag mean to me? What does the American flag mean to everyone in the United States? The American Flag has represented freedom, courage, valor, perseverance, justice, innocence, purity and bravery since 1777, but to many of us, it represents much more.
The American Flag represents my Grandpa who fought in Vietnam; in the Navy, my cousins who enlisted in the Army, and my uncles and aunts who are army veterans. It represents the time that they spent away from home, the injuries that they sustained, and the children who never got to see their parents again. It represents the letters that I sent to my brother as he was overseas in the Army and the time I spent away from him. It represents the tears that I shed as he came walking up the stairs of my house to embrace me in a tight hug that lasted for minutes, the day he came back home.
The American Flag also represents law enforcement, first responders, fire serves, ems, and all of the other professions that keep us safe. The similarity between all of the professions I listed are that they all represent, courage, valor, perseverance, justice, innocence, purity and bravery; the same as the American flag represents.
To me the American flag is a symbol of Pride. When the first steps on the moon were taken, there was an American flag placed next to the footprints, representing the pride that we have for our Country. Olympians will wrap the flag around them as they receive the Gold medal because they have pride for the country they are competing for. All emergency response stations have an American flag flying high outside their station because they are proud to be serving their community in the great United States.
When a hero falls, such as a police officer or a firefighter, the American flag is flown at half-staff to honor the fallen heroes that lost their lives serving our communities in our great Country. As a daughter of a firefighter and as a firefighter myself, I pray that the need of the American flag flown at half-staff isn’t ever needed again, but then again, I don’t think there is a greater honor than to have the American Flag be flown in honor of us if tragedy were to strike.
The American flag reminds me of the history that I wasn’t there for, but have learned about throughout the years. It reminds me of the 22 Veterans every day that commit suicide because of what they have been through before, during and after they served our great Country. I’m reminded of the hardships that people have gone through in our Country. It reminds me of the kindness we should have for each other, as we may have differences, but we are all still Americans.
In conclusion, the American flag means a lot more to me than the red, white, and blue and the 50 stars. When I look at the American flag, I feel bravery, courage, happiness that I have that freedom because of our amazing heroes, pain because of the heroes we lost, and most of all; pride.
Through wars and in times of peace, the sight of the American flag has given assurances that democracy lives. No other symbol captures the power and glory of our nation like the American flag.
1st Place: Grades 6-8
When you look at the American flag, what do you think of? Maybe you think of the people who fought for it, or the people in the country today. The American flag can make you feel many different ways, and that’s something I love about it. Some people don’t think about what it means, but there are many things that it represents.
First, the American flag means that people had to sacrifice their lives to save other people. The people who died deserve to be honored, and they are honored every day by Americans. Next, it means that the people who live in the United States are all united as one nation that together can do anything. Americans pledge their allegiance which means they are going to respect the flag and the other people that live under it. Lastly, the people who survived those wars must think about the people who were serving with them all the time. I believe that when those veterans look at the flag they know that veterans who died were honored to serve with them. The American flag is the thing that unites us, shows our respect for veterans, and shows our allegiance to the United States, which is why it is very important.
The thoughts that you have when you look at the American flag are not right or wrong; it is just how you interpret it. The American flag can represent different things for different people, and that’s what makes it special.
2nd Place: Grades 6-8
The American flag is a symbol of accomplishment, bravery, freedom, and equality. Our flag means this and more, not being a mere piece of cloth. These thirteen stripes portray the first colonies; the stars represent our nation’s fifty states. The vibrant colors of these pieces have even more meaning. Red symbolizes strength and valor. White symbolizes purity, innocence, peace, and beauty. Blue symbolizes perseverance, justice, prosperity, and freedom. This flag symbolizes our country.
Imagine it’s July 20, 1969 and you are sitting in your living room watching Neil Armstrong taking his first step on the moon. You are witnessing with your own eyes the first man to ever walk on the moon. This moment will never be forgotten, filled with awe and wonder. The American flag was flown into space and placed on the moon’s surface. Our flag made it to the moon, and we accomplished the unimaginable.
The American flag inspired our valiant soldiers to fight for our freedom, liberty, and democracy. We Americans have a duty to honor the lives sacrificed. We should appreciate and show gratitude to the people that dedicated themselves to our country.
I am blessed to be born an American and feel so much pride for my nation. I am truly privileged to have so many opportunities in his country that God has blessed.
“When we honor our flag we honor what we stand for as a nation: freedom, equality, justice, and hope.” Ronald Reagan said it well. Let us show the honor due.
1st Place: Grades 4-5
The American Flag is more than just cloth, it’s freedom, opportunity, and freedom of the press. I’m thankful for all the soldiers that died. They will be remembered forever and loved because God has a special place for them. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines gave their lives for America’s freedom.
We all have equal opportunity whether we are white, black, rich, or poor. People from all over the world want to come to America to experience the freedom and love it provides. In other places, people don’t experience the same freedom we do. When I see the flag, it represented being able to follow my own chosen path.
It’s an honor and a privilege to be a citizen of this country. Living in America isn’t like living in any other country. Every day, good people give their best to make our country better. My pride in our country makes me want to continue that legacy. I love our flag and always will. It is a physical reminder of what opportunity we have, our religious freedom, and a representation of the battles my family won defending her.
2nd Place: Grades 4-5
What the American flag means to me is… that our country fought for us many times. The army gave us freedom, protection, and a great place to live. When I see the flag it reminds me of doing the Pledge of Allegiance at school. It also reminds me of when we unite just like the United States. During the Fourth of July my family and I go to the neighbors and watch the fireworks. When I watch the fireworks I think of bursting bombs just like the ones in war. My great-grandpa was in the Korean War and he told many stories about it. The American flag relates to that because he helped the army build huge bridges! I have many ideas about the flag. Hopefully, you have amazing reasons about the flag too. In my opinion the American flag is special in it’s own way.
2020 ESSAY CONTEST WINNERS
The National Flag Day Foundation wishes to thank each of the nearly 250 students who submitted essays for the2020 contest. The response was greater than ever, with entries received from all over the United States. All of the essays were well done, making selection of only two per category difficult. The students expressed very thought-provoking reflections on the personal significance of the American Flag. All contestants are to be applauded for their outstanding effort. Special thanks to all of the contestants and our panel of judges.
First Place - Grades 3-5
First Place - Grades 6-8
Port Washington, WI
First Place - Grades 9-12
Second Place - Grades 3-5
Second Place - Grades 6-8