Alaska’s star has been on the U.S. flag for 60 years.
America paid tribute to its flag over the weekend, recalling why and how the latest design to include Alaska came about.
It was during the American Revolution against the British, when the colonists sought independence, that the flag was created as a symbol of unity and freedom. It represented the colonists with one way of thinking, and the thoughts featured freedom from British rule.
The Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777 passed a resolution that the flag would be 13 stripes, representing the original colonies, alternating red and white, and the union would be 13 stars, white in a blue field.
As states joined the union, the number of stars increased.
Then in the 1950s when it appeared Alaska would be admitted to the union, a 17-year-old Ohio student named Bob Heft proposed a flag redesign. He removed 48 stars from a family flag and stitched on 50 in a new arrangement. He turned it in as a class project to his history teacher.
Heft also sent the new design to his congressman, Walter Moeller, who presented it to President Dwight Eisenhower. Eisenhower chose Heft’s design for the future flag. It was raised with both the president and Heft present on July 4, 1960, the year following Alaska’s entry into the union.
The flag has flown at every significant event in national history — inaugurations, congressional and legislative sessions, battlefields and awards ceremonies. It leads the Fourth of July parade in Ketchikan annually.
It’s been saluted and disrespected. It’s elicited pride and stirred resentment. It is representative of our nation, whatever that looks like from one period in time to the next.
President Woodrow Wilson established Flag Day in 1916.
The day is one on which to reflect whether the people who live under it are living up to what it stands for — unity and freedom.