The Bugler

Bugler Newsletter

The Stars and Stripes

It began as a high school history project
When you raise your flag on June 14th, Flag Day, remember Robert Heft, a high school student from Lancaster, Ohio. In 1958, Heft was a Lancaster High School junior who was very interested in politics. At the time, Alaska was seeking admission as a state. Heft reasoned that since Alaska was heavy with Democrats, the Republicans would want to even things out with the admission of Hawaii, which primarily supported the GOP at the time. So, Heft sat on the floor of his grandparents' living room and ripped apart a 48-star flag (an action he was scolded for as being disrespectful) and came up with a new combination of stars.

He rearranged the stars in the order we now see: five rows of six stars alternating with four rows of five stars. He made the two extra stars using iron-on white tape. Lancaster High School's history teacher Stanley Pratt didn't think too much of Heft's logic and new flag. He gave the student a B- grade and commented that the project lacked originality. To raise his grade, Pratt challenged him to send his design to Congress. It if ever was adopted, the teacher would change the grade to an "A."

Timing is everything!
As it turned out, Heft's logic was correct. Alaska became a state in January 1959 and Hawaii was admitted the following August. Statehood can be granted anytime, but a star can only be added to the flag on the Fourth of July. Thus, the 49-star flag was good only for one year. When 50 stars were needed, Heft's design was with Congressman Walter Moeller, who was instrumental in getting it accepted.

As good as his word
In 1960 when the new flag was raised over the Capitol, Heft was standing next to President Dwight D. Eisenhower at the ceremony as the new flag's designer. Pratt had been right in a sense about the creativity part. Of the 109,000 design submissions, 90,000 were paper sketches just like Heft's prototype flag, but his was an actual cloth incarnation. The unveiling ceremony was held one month after Heft's high school graduation. Pratt was as good as his word. The grade was changed to an "A" with the comment: "If it's good enough for Washington, it's good enough for me!"

The end of the story
By the end of 1960, Heft had registered designs for states 51 through 60. The stripes are the same as today's flag, but each has a different star pattern.

So if we add a 51st state to the Union what will Robert Heft's flag look like if his design is approved? That flag has six rows of stars, beginning with a row of nine and alternated by rows of eight to achieve a 51-star total.

Lloyd's of London has insured Heft's original 50-star "Old Glory" for $500,000.

Tributes to "Old Glory"

Hurrah for the flag of the free.
May it wave as our standard forever
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with mighty endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.                    
                                                      John Philip Sousa – Stars and Stripes Forever

If anyone, then, asks me the meaning of our flag, I say to him – it means just what Concord and Lexington meant; what Bunker Hill meant; which was, in short, the rising up of a valiant young people against an old tyranny to establish the most momentous doctrine that the world had ever known – the right of men to their own selves and to their liberties.
                                                     Henry Ward Beecher, Clergyman & Social Reformer

Cheers for the sailors that fought on the wave for it!
Cheers for the soldiers that always were brave for it!
Tears for the men that went down to the grave for it!
Here comes The Flag!
                                                     Arthur Macy – The Flag

Your flag and my flag,
And how it flies today
In your land and my land
And half a world away!
Rose-red and blood-red
The stripes forever gleam;
Snow-white and soul-white –
The good forefathers' dream;
Sky-blue and true-blue
With stars to gleam aright –
The gloried guidon of the day,
A shelter through the night.
                                                   Wilbur D. Nesbit – Your Flag and My Flag

The flag of the United States has not been created by rhetorical sentences in declarations of independence and in bills of rights. It has been created by the experience of great people, and nothing is written upon it that has not been written by their life. It is the embodiment, not of a sentiment, but of a history.
                                                    President Woodrow Wilson

Especially today as we fight the war on terror – against an enemy that represents hatred, extremism and stands behind no flag – we need to remember the sacrifices that have gone into protecting our flag.
                                                    Bill Shuster, Politician

I believe in America. I'm one of those silly flag wavers.
                                                    Paul Prudhomme, Chef

I believe our flag is more than just cloth and ink. It is a universally recognized symbol that stands for liberty and freedom. It is the history of our nation, and it's marked by the blood of those who died defending it.
                                                    John Thune, Politician

Our flag honors those who have fought to protect it, and is a reminder of the sacrifice of our nation's founders and heroes. As the ultimate icon of America's storied history, the Stars and Stripes represents the very best of this nation.
                                                    Joe Barton, Politician

Our flag is not just one of many political points of view. Rather, the flag is a symbol of our national unity.
                                                    Adrian Cronauer, Radio Personality

You're a grand old flag,
You're a high flying flag
And forever in peace may you wave.
You're the emblem of
The land I love.
The home of the free and the brave.
Ev'ry heart beats true
'neath the Red, White and Blue,
Where there's never a boast or brag.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eye on the grand old flag.  
                                                            George M. Cohan – You're a Grand Old Flag

Looking for gifts that honor "Old Glory"?

Glendale has two outstanding books created by Kit Hinrichs, Delphine Hirasuna and Terry Heffernen:
Flag Book100 American Flags: a Unique Collection of Old Glory Memorabilia will captivate history buffs, folk-art aficionados, and collectors.
Flag BookLong May She Wave: A Graphic History of the American Flag is the perfect book to give, to keep and to cherish with its 500+ illustrations. The History of Old Glory Poster features descriptions of 10 American flags with facts, dates and watercolor images.

For more information ...
Flag display protocol:
How to fold a flag:
Appropriate flag sizes for indoor flag poles:

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