DHS Flunks Citizenship Test Question: '15 Stars and Stripes' on U.S. Flag

Government press release on naturalization ceremony flubs basic fact.

It seems the Department of Homeland Security doesn't know how many stars and stripes there are on the American flag.

A DHS press release, dated June 20, commemorated the June 17th naturalization of 15 new US citizens, noting the "15 stars and stripes" on the U.S. flag. The problem is that the American Flag doesn't have 15 stars and stripes; it has had 13 stripes since the Act of April 4, 1818, was signed by President James Monroe, and 50 stars since 1960, after Hawaii became a state the year before.

"These 15 candidates, symbolically representing the 15 stars and stripes on our Nation's flag, hailed from Australia, Canada, El Salvador, Greece, Guatemala, India, Iraq, Italy, Kenya, Lithuania, Mexico, the Philippines, Romania, Sierra Leone and South Korea," the press release said.

Ironically, the number of stars and stripes as well as its meaning is a question included on the test for becoming a naturalized citizen.

Former first lady Hillary Clinton and fashion designer Ralph Lauren attended the ceremony at Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. The Star Spangled Banner, the flag that was flown at Fort McHenry and is traditionally viewed as the inspiration behind the national anthem, is displayed at that museum and does, in fact, have 15 stripes. However, that flag was not referred to in the press release and all the other flags displayed throughout the ceremony had 13 stripes.

According to the press release, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson "congratulated the candidates by saying, 'Each of you are Americans by choice, and you remind the rest of us of the value and importance of being a citizen of this great country.'"

— Mike Ciandella is Research Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Mike Ciandella on Twitter.