The 51-Star Flag of the United States: The Designs are Ready and Waiting

It is the longest-serving national flag of the United States. Since July 4, 1960, after the addition of Hawaii as the 50th state, the flag of the United States with its 50 stars has served longer than the 48-star flag, the national standard from 1912 to 1959.

One of three possible 51-star designs for a new American flag. On this one, the rows of stars are staggered.

One of three possible 51-star designs for a new American flag. On this one, the rows of stars are staggered.

But, is there a 51-star flag in our future? Could be. There is annual debate about whether the District of Columbia should become a state, with other discussions about Puerto Rico,the U.S. Virgin Islands, Samoa, Guam and Northern Marianas also getting support. The Philippines, for that matter, has angled for statehood, although the general consensus is that it is not yet ready to declare itself one.

Whatever the possibility of which new territory is the newest state, a 51-star flag has been designed and ready to go. So, what does this flag look like? Well, before we discover that, let’s look back at who actually designed the 50-star flag.

It was a school project that only received a B-, and the grade infuriated 17-year-old Robert Heft, the designer. His teacher, Stanley Kramer, promised that if Congress ever adopted Heft’s design, he would raise the grade to an A. When Congress did adopt the design, Kramer was as good as his word. Heft became a teacher himself and later served as mayor of Napoleon, Ohio, for 28 years.

The second 51-star designs has the stars in a circular pattern.

The second 51-star designs has the stars in a circular pattern.

So, about that 51-star flag. Is it hard to say whether the United States will number 51 eventually. But, the design is ready in any case.

Would you like your 51-star flag to show its stars in a circle or in a rectangle? Perhaps you have your own design. Send it to the president today so it will be considered before the new state is approved. Remember, all new states enter the union on the July Fourth following admission. That is when the new 51-star flag will be unfurled.

If that day every comes, what happens with the collectibility of the 50-star flag? With nearly 49 years of service already, there are entirely too many flags in circulation. They won’t even have the advantage of being woolen like the 48-star flag to give it an extra collectible value.

Still, hang on to the more unusual 50-star flags, the ones used for a historic or commemorative occasion, for example. The ones that flew over the White House or Capitol will have extra value, too. If they flew in space, landed on the moon or covered a dignitary in the Capitol Rotunda, they will have extra value.

You should know, though, that whichever 50-star flag you have, or even a 48-, 46- or 25-star flag, no U.S. national flag is ever decommissioned. They are all perfectly legal to fly, according to the Flag Code, regardless of the number of stars it shows.

So, fly any American flag with pride and honor. I know I do.

For more information about the 51-Star Flag, there is a dedicated Wikipedida page on the subject. For general rules on flag etiquette, there is this official page.

Tom Carrier is a general Worthologist, with an expertise in a wide variety of subjects, including vexillology, or the study of flags.

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