You may not know it, but today is National Flag Day. On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress in Philadelphia adopted the Stars and Stripes as the national flag of the United States. Here are 5 important facts that you need to know about Flag Day...
It Was Never Proven That Betsy Ross Made the First American Flag
Every schoolkid knows that Betsy Ross created the first American flag, right? Not necessarily. While images of Ross doggedly sewing away will always live on --some historians dispute that she did the actual sewing. The only records of Ross' involvement came from her own grandson in 1870, when he presented the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia with affidavits from his own family members as evidence. True or not, it is a revered story in the history of the country.
A Student Designed The 50-State Flag For a Class Project A 17-year-old student designed the flag as it appears today. In anticipation of Alaska and Hawaii becoming states, Robert G. Heft created the 50-star flag as part of a history project (for which he received a B-) before submitting it to Congress for consideration. In August of 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower chose Heft's design over 1,500 other applicants and informed him of the news over the phone. Heft's teacher later changed his grade to an A. Talk about sweet revenge
A Flag Serves as a Sad Time Capsule in Gilligan's Island If you watch the original opening to Gilligan's Island, when it was filmed in black and white, look carefully at the background at about 22 seconds in. You'll see a flag that is at a lowered position -- it's not very big, but if you look carefully, you'll see it. According to a 1994 audio book co-authored by Russell Johnson, who played the Professor, this is because the show's pilot episode finished filming on Nov. 22, 1963 — the same day President Kennedy was assassinated.
The U.S. Flag Was First Flown on the Moon in 1969. During the first mission to the moon by Apollo 11, astronaut Neil Armstrong implanted a five-foot by three-foot U.S. flag in the moon’s surface. Five additional flags were planted from later Apollo missions. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin reported that the original flag had been knocked over as a result of a rocket blast as he and Armstrong were departing the moon’s surface for their return trip to Earth.
The Flag Was Nicknamed “Old Glory” by a Sea Captain While "Old Glory" is a very common nickname for the U.S. flag now, it was the name of one specific flag owned by a sea captain. Sea Captain William Driver, who was from Massachusetts, owned a 10- by 17-foot flag, which he named Old Glory; it's said to have survived the Civil War. The story behind the name is unclear, although historians think he came up with the name when thinking back on his career and the things he (and the flag) had seen. When the war was over, it was flown over the statehouse in Tennessee. Eventually, the nickname worked its way into the national mind as a name for the flag in general. It is considered an important artifact in the nation’s history and is housed at the Smithsonian Institution.