Today in 1942 was the birthday of the guy who created the flag of the United States.

Yes, I know the stars and stripes are actually much older than 1942, but remember, the flag has changed over the years.

Originally there were thirteen stars and thirteen stripes.

And while the stripes have mostly stayed at thirteen, the number of stars has been rising for much of the country’s history.

That’s where Bob Heft comes in.


In 1958, Heft was a high school junior in Ohio.

Heft had to create a project for his U.S. history class, and the assignment gave him an idea.

There had been 48 states since 1912, so there were 48 stars on the U.S. flag.

But by the late 1950s, the push was on to make Alaska and Hawaii states as well.

Heft decided his class project would be to design the first flag representing 50 states.

He took a 48-star flag his parents had gotten as a wedding present and redesigned the field of stars.

There were five rows of six stars, and in between them, four rows of five stars.

Not bad for a guy who said he’d never sewn anything before in his life.

But his teacher gave him a B minus, saying he’d added too many stars to the flag.

Heft protested, explaining the concept, and the teacher said, if you can get the government to accept the flag design, maybe I’ll change the grade.

And that’s exactly what Heft did: for two years he called and wrote the White House over and over, explaining that he’d created a flag that they’d need with two new states in the Union.

One day the phone rang.

It was President Dwight Eisenhower, inviting Heft to watch his flag being raised over the U.S. Capitol for the first time on July 4, 1960.

And that history teacher changed Heft’s grade to an A.

Today in 1809 was the birthday of Edgar Allan Poe.

Interesting side note: there was once an effort to make a biopic about the great writer that would have starred none other than Sylvester Stallone.

He eventually decided he wasn’t right for the part, but not before doing a costume test.

How about Poe vs. Clubber Lang instead?

A Boy Scout designed the 50-star American flag (Scouting Magazine)

Robert G. Heft (Ohio History Central)

Stallone Shows Why He Was Wrong for Edgar Allan Poe, But Vows to Finish Script (Movieweb)

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Photo by jnn1776 via Flickr/Creative Commons