For an American history project during his junior year of high school in 1958, Bob Heft created a 50-star flag. The only problem was that at the time there were only 48 states. Bob had a hunch that two more states would be added and in 1959, Alaska and Hawaii became our 49th and 50th states.

dda000628_sta6Bob created the 50-star flag by cutting up a 48-star flag his parents had received as a wedding present. “I’d watch my mom sew, but I had never sewn…and since making the flag of our country, I’ve never sewn again.” Bob’s teacher was unimpressed and gave him a B- asking if he even knew how many states we had, and telling him, “If you don’t like the grade, get it accepted in Washington then come back and see me.”

Two years later his perseverance paid off when he received a call from President Dwight D. Eisenhower who invited him to Washington, D.C., for a ceremony adopting his 50-star flag. Bob’s teacher also went back and changed his grade to an A.

Bob later became a high school teacher, college professor, and served as mayor of Napoleon, Ohio, before he died in December 2009 at the age of 68.

Originally aired July 3, 2009, on NPR’s Morning Edition.