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Who Designed the 50-Star American Flag?

Most Americans know the story of Betsy Ross, who supposedly sewed the original American flag with 13 stars and 13 stripes at the behest of George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Although the Betsy Ross story is at least partly the stuff of family legend, there is another flag designer whose story is equally impressive -- and completely true. In the 1950s, while Alaska and Hawaii were being considered for statehood, high school student Robert Heft of Lancaster, Ohio, decided to create a 50-star flag for a history class assignment. Despite not having any sewing experience, Heft applied his creativity to the existing 48-star flag and created a design with alternating six-star and five-star rows. Heft was undoubtedly disappointed to receive a B- on his project, and he eagerly took up his teacher's challenge: if he could get the design accepted by Congress, his grade would be raised to an A. After numerous letters and phone calls, Heft received a phone call from President Dwight D. Eisenhower, informing him that his design had been accepted. And true to his word, Heft's history teacher give him that A, after all.

You're a grand old flag:

  • The official 50-star flag was flown for the first time over Fort McHenry in Baltimore on July 4, 1960, with Heft in attendance.

  • Heft also designed a 51-star flag, just in case another state eventually joined the Union, perhaps Puerto Rico. In a 2017 referendum, 97% of voters in Puerto Rico voted for statehood, although voter turnout was relatively low, at 23%.

  • Heft took part in countless speaking engagements all over the United States, telling the story of how he designed the flag. He also served as the mayor of Napoleon, Ohio, for 28 years. He passed away in 2009 at age 68.

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More Info: The Huffington Post

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