Old Glory, from 48, to 49, to 50 stars

By Sherri Geistweidt —

I’ve seen them popping up more and more all over town since Flag Day was observed two weeks ago.

And, last week, my sister-in-law picked up one for me when she was shopping at one of those chain stores in the city.

Yes, now that I’ve got my “Stars and Stripes” T-shirt like several million others have purchased, I’m ready to celebrate Independence Day next Friday.

I try to get my hands on one of those shirts each year so that I can show my patriotism, and always ponder the fact that the shirt contains the name of the merchant printed across the front. So, in essence, I pay to advertise the name of that store on my shirt!


I can’t remember back that far and had never given it much thought, but when I was born, there weren’t 50 stars on the United States flag. Back then, there were only 48 — each representing one of the states in the Unit-ed States at the time.

Emblazoned in white on a field of blue, those 48 stars flew alongside and above the red and white stripes symbolic of the 13 original colonies in the Union.

In two different articles that were published in the July 1, 1959, edition of the Fredericksburg Standard, mention was made of raising the U.S. flag. This is nothing unusual, except for the fact that the two articles mentioned “the flag with 49 stars.”

On the front page of that week’s newspaper, Fair Queen Sandra Schaefer and James Kraus, vice president of the Gillespie County Fair Association, were pictured displaying the new 49-star flag that would be unfurled during the National Anthem at that weekend’s Independence Day horse race meet at the fair grounds.

Another article that week was in regard to the upcom-ing National Girl Scout Roundup in Pike’s Peak, Colorado, which Janie Evers and Tyra Ann Cox would be attending. There, too, “Old Glory” with 49 stars was to be raised during a July 4 campfire ceremony.

The 48-star banner was about to gain a star because six months beforehand, on Jan. 3, 1959, the state of Alaska was formally granted statehood when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an executive order providing for the addition of another star to “Old Glory.”

What had once been a field of blue with six horizontal rows of eight stars each would now become an arrangement of seven rows of stars with seven in each row.

Prior to adding another star on Independence Day 1959, “Old Glory” had boasted 48 stars since way back on July 4, 1912 — when New Mexico and Arizona were granted statehood — and would be the official United States flag for 47 years — longer than any other U.S. flag up to that point.

According to the website, www.usflag.org, the 48-star banner flew through two World Wars and the emergence of the United States of America as the leading nation of the world.

The 49-star didn’t fly that long, because on Aug. 21, 1959 when Hawaii was granted statehood, another star was to be added.

The following year on July 4, 1960, the 27th flag to fly over the United States — with 50 stars — became the official flag that still flies to-day.


While there is flag etiquette to follow, “Old Glory” has been displayed on every-thing from T-shirts and shoe strings to dishes and home décor.

Several years ago, I started crocheting a “Stars and Stripes” flag afghan. The stars are created of “granny-square”-like stars, to be sewn together and attached to red and white stripes.

Sewing the stars together has been no small feat as I’m still trying to get them fastened one to another. And after that, hopefully they will align properly with the stripes.

With my luck, by the time I do get them all assembled, it will be time to add another star!

Happy Independence Day!

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