A High School Student Designed Our American Flag

In Honor of July 4th Independence Day

In 1958, a high school history teacher in Ohio assigned his students to do an individual project.

Junior class student Bob Heft ambitiously decided to redesign the American flag.  At that time, there were 48 states.  However, it appeared that Alaska and Hawaii might gain statehood in the near future.

Heft cut 50 white stars from iron-on material. He attached the stars to a piece of blue cloth. He then sewed the new field of stars to his parents’ 48-star American flag. Heft spent over 12 hours on the project. He cleverly arranged the 50 stars into a field that included five rows of six stars and four rows of five stars. It was in perfect alignment horizontally, vertically, and diagonally.

When Heft brought his flag to class, his teacher was unimpressed. His teacher criticized, “You have too many stars? Don’t you even know how many states we have.”  Heft had expected an “A,” but the teacher awarded a disappointing “B-.”

Undeterred, Heft mailed his flag to the White House and asked the president to look at it. 

Two years later, after Alaska and Hawaii became states, Heft received a surprise phone call from President Eisenhower.  Heft’s flag was chosen as the model for the country’s new 50-star flag. 

President Eisenhower invited Heft to attend the official flag raising ceremony of the new flag at the U.S. Capital on July 4, 1960.

Now, even Heft’s history teacher was impressed. He commented, ‘I guess if it’s good enough for Washington, it’s good enough for me. I hereby change the grade to an ‘A.’”

Since then, the Heft-designed flag has set the record as the longest-tenured U.S. flag in history.

(“The High School Who Designed the 50-Star American Flag,” Mark Soroka, National Flag Foundation.)

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