What Would a 51-State Flag Look Like?

With Puerto Rican statehood in the news once again, Smithsonian magazine’s excellent Design Decoded blog poses an interesting question: what would a 51-state American flag look like?

We all know the story of Betsy Ross, the patriotic Philly seamstress who stitched together the first flag for then-General George Washington, but contemporary flag history is a little fuzzier. Smithsonian reminds us of the late ’50s, when, even as the nation pondered admitting Alaska and Hawaii, the idea of a 50-state flag seemed preposterous. In a clip from StoryCorps extensive archives, Bob Heft—the man officially credited with designing the flag as we know it today—tells how his 50-state design came to be.

For a high school class project, Heft resewed (the only time he says he’s sewed in his life) an existing 48-state flag with two extra stars. After his teacher gave him a B-, thinking he just did not know how many states there were in America, Heft submitted his design to the White House national competition and won the accolade of President Eisenhower himself. In case you were wondering, his teacher promptly changed his grade to an A.

As the vote for Puerto Rico to join the Union hangs in the balance, Reddit users have already taken to Adobe Creative Suite for their ideas for 51-state flag. Though doubtful America will ever adopt Pac-Man stars on our national banner, it will be fun to see the creativity that comes from this design challenge.

Photo credit: Reddit


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