Here is the explanation for the unusual flag display on Capitol Hill on Inauguration Day: A tribute is paid to President Trump’s home state of New York and to one of USA’s earliest national flags.
Five huge flags hang vertically on the United States Capitol during the Inauguration Day ceremony. In the center: the current Flag of the United States with fifty stars. In second and third position: the U.S. flag in use when the President’s home state was admitted to the Union. In fourth and fifth position: the Betsy Ross Flag with thirteen stars in a circle.
The so-called Betsy Ross Flag is one of the earliest designs of the U.S. flag and it has been popular since the 19th Century. The thirteen stripes and the circle of thirteen stars represent the thirteen colonies which formed the United States in 1776.
The flag with thirteen stars arranged in rows is sometimes called the Francis Hopkinson Flag. This was the first official version of the U.S. flag, adopted in 1777. As the state of New York was one of the original thirteen U.S. states, this flag represents the home state of President Donald Trump.
According to the 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the presidential inauguration takes place every four years on January 20, at noon. The newly elected president takes the Oath of Office, administered by the Chief Justice of the United States.
The ceremony, which also includes music, prayers and the President’s Inaugural Address, takes place on the West Front of the Capitol Building and the event draws hundreds of thousands of spectators. In 1985, though, the public inauguration of President Ronald Reagan had to be held indoors in the Capitol Rotunda because of unusually harsh weather conditions with freezing temperatures and strong wind chill.
It was in the 1980’s that the flag display on Inauguration Day began to include historical U.S. flags connected to the president’s home state. Note, that a president’s home state is not necessarily the state where he is born.
At the two inaugurations of President Bill Clinton, in 1993 and 1997, flags with 25 stars represented his home state of Arkansas as, in 1836, Arkansas was the 25th state to be admitted to the Union. Texas, being the 28th state to be admitted to the Union in 1845, was honored with 28-star flags at the inaugurations of President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2005.
At the 2009 and 2013 inaugurations, flags with 21 stars hung next to the Stars and Stripes and the Betsy Ross Flags. This flag was the version of the U.S. flag in use for one year after the 1818 admission to the Union of Illinois, home state of President Barack Obama.