How a teen's history project in 1958 became the U.S.'s official flag





Robert G. Heft once sat patiently at an autograph signing in Dallas while hundreds of people flocked to NBA legend Michael Jordan to claim one of his $30 signatures.

Standing in Heft's 10-person line, a boy asked his father why they were waiting for the autograph of a man he'd never seen. The father replied that Heft — who designed America's 50-star flag — is a piece of history.

Although he'll grace the pages of history books one day for his accomplishment, Heft, 64, of Thomas Township, Mich., doesn't place himself on a pedestal.

"I never look at myself like anything special," Heft said recently. "I consider myself just a regular person."

Last fall, Heft put up the 48-year-old banner that he sewed as a high school history project on eBay and set the price at $250,000. Although the item received more than 10,000 hits during two 10-day bidding periods, Heft said he didn't get any serious offers.

A year later, he's happy that the flag — now in a glass case for preservation — still is safe with him.

"One thing I was concerned about was where it would end up," said Heft, a retired professor from Northwest State Community College in Archbold, Ohio.


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