No country on Earth is as in thrall to its own flag as the United States. We even give the flag its own special little holiday, Flag Day, a day when millions of patriotic Americans pause and go, "Wait — it's Flag Day? Okay, cool," because they noticed Google changed its "L" into a flagpole.
Considering the unprecedented level of slavish adoration we have for the symbol, you'd think the design of its 50-star incarnation in 1959 would have been supervised by the elites of the graphic design industry, like Milton Glaser — the "I Heart NY" guy — or the wizard who hid the bear in the Toblerone logo. The truth, however, is crazier, but also quintessentially American: a 17-year-old kid from Lancaster, Ohio, named Robert G. Heft, used his mother's sewing machine to create the 50-star flag design we know, love, and make yoga pants out of today.
Heft had a feeling Alaska and Hawaii would one day achieve statehood, so the crafty young prognosticator set to work in 1958, a year prior to their entry, designing the flag for a class project. His teacher, firmly on the wrong side of history, gave Heft a measly "B-" for the work. In lesser countries, that would have later seen Teach shipped off to a forced-labor camp. But this is America, so Heft's underdog design later triumphed over 1,500 other submissions to Congress, earning him a personal phone call in 1959 from President Eisenhower, who thanked him for his work.
The teacher, in a shameless bit of boot-licking, then increased Heft's grade to an "A," destroying his credibility as a fair and balanced educator, presumably, for decades to come.