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You’re a Grand Old Flag

Did you know that the current American flag was a result of a school project? Can you believe that the resulting grade on the project was only a B minus? In 1958, high school student Robert G. Heft of Lancaster, Ohio, was spurred on by his interest in politics and talk of Alaska and Hawaii becoming states to design a 50-star flag as a school project. His teacher, Stanley Pratt, gave him a B minus on the project, describing it as unoriginal. However, he would grant Heft a higher grade if Congress accepted the design. Thanks to the late congressman Walter Moeller, Heft earned his gold star when the design was accepted in 1960.

The American flag flies high at the Library of Congress. 2006 140th Flag Day, 1777-1917. The birthday of the stars and stripes. June 14th, 1917

Americans salute the flag during Flag Day, observed every year on June 14. On that day in 1777, the Continental Congress approved the stars and stripes design. More than a century later, President Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation declaring June 14 to be Flag Day.

This iconic symbol of American patriotism isn’t without its share of myths and controversy. For example, it is highly unlikely that Betsy Ross designed the first United States flag. In fact, the journals of the Continental Congress cite Francis Hopkinson, a congressman from New Jersey and signer of the Declaration of Independence, as the creator. These myths are the subject of a webcast given by authors Karal Ann Marling and Vincent Virga, who used the Library’s extensive collections for their books on American history.

Be sure to check out the webcast homepage to view other book talks, as well as concerts, poetry readings and lectures previously held at the Library.

More information on Flag Day can be found in the June 14 entry of Today in History, a Web site that is worth visiting every day of the year. Today in History offers a wealth of fascinating information from the historical collections of the Library of Congress.

A. The American flag flies high at the Library of Congress. 2006. Robert Sokol. Reproduction Information: Not available for reproduction.

B. 140th Flag Day, 1777-1917. The birthday of the stars and stripes. June 14th, 1917. Prints and Photographs Division. SUMMARY: Poster showing a man raising the American flag, with a minuteman cheering and an eagle flying above; Reproduction Information: Reproduction No.: LC-USZC4-6262 (color film copy transparency); Call No.: POS - WWI - US, no. 412 (C size) [P&P]