Thirteen Stars
copyright 2001 by Tim Griffin

Now Washington the general knew that England was mighty strong
And the colonies would never beat her if we could not get along
We’d have to work together for the country to be free
So Washington asked Betsy Ross to make a symbol of unity

Thirteen stars must shine together for a land that would be free
‘Cause if we could not hang together we would all hang separately
Thirteen stripes that came together in Betsy Ross’ hands
Showed the world that thirteen colonies had now become one land

They came to Ellis Island, from across a shining sea
To cast their lot in a melting pot called the land of the free
Some came for jobs or freedom, to escape disease or war
And each new face reminded us what the thirteen stars were for

Thirteen stars that made one circle, stitched upon one field of blue
Called the people of the world to come and build a dream come true
Thirteen stripes that should remind us, don’t forget your fathers’ homes
But the stripes all stand together ‘cause no star can shine alone

Now people often wonder, you can hear them every week
What does an American look like? What language does he speak?
Some say they know the answer but I believe that they’re all wrong
‘Cause it’s the blood of other nations that makes America’s heart beat strong

Fifty stars that came together from one hundred different lands
Build one future with two hundred fifty million pairs of hands
Thirteen stripes to show the people’s individuality
But the stars and stripes are one flag now…
Which is how they ought to be.


When I was a full-time teacher in LAUSD, most of my kids were either immigrants or first generation citizens, so they often had gaps in their knowledge of American institutions and symbols; so do many American adults, but that’s not really my job. And hey, Johnny Jingo: if your ancestors came to America in the last 500 years, that makes your family immigrants too. Deal with it.

Here are some CALIFORNIA CONTENT STANDARDS addressed by this song:


  • Social Studies K.2: Students recognize national and state symbols and icons such as the national and state flags, the bald eagle, and the Statue of Liberty.

First Grade:

  • SS 1.3.3: Identify American symbols, landmarks, and essential documents, such as the flag, bald eagle, Statue of Liberty, U.S. Constitution, and Declaration of Independence, and know the people and events associated with them.