We all know the story of Betsy Ross, who sewed the first United States flag at the personal request of George Washington.
The fact that the story is more myth than history (read more here, here and here) doesn’t diminish its patriotic message.
Equally inspiring is the story of a 17-year-old high-school student from Lancaster, Ohio, who in 1958 designed the current 50-star US flag (adding two stars for the soon-to-be-admitted Alaska and Hawaii) for a class assignment. Unlike the Betsy Ross saga, the story of Robert Heft – whose design was selected out of more than 1,500 submissions by President Eisenhower himself – is factual, though it reads like fiction.
Below are 10 other Fun Facts for the Fourth of July.
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Fun Facts for the Fourth of July
1. Benjamin Franklin proposed making the turkey our national bird instead of the bald eagle (saying the turkey is “a much more respectable bird, a bird of courage, though a little vain & silly”), although historians agree he was joking when he said it.
2. Robert Heft used $2.87 worth of blue cloth and white iron-on patches to design his winning flag.
3. Americans will eat 150 million hot dogs over the July 4th holiday.
4. The American bison is the official US mammal.
5. John Hancock and Charles Thompson were the only signers of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The other 54 delegates signed over the next month.
6. The average age of the Declaration signers was 45. The youngest were Thomas Lynch Jr. and Edward Rutledge of South Carolina, both 26. Benjamin Franklin was the oldest at age 70.
7. The Washington Monument, rising 555 feet into the air, is the tallest building in Washington DC and the tallest obelisk in the world.
8. Just as we learned in the film National Treasure, something is written on the back of the back of the Declaration of Independence. Unfortunately, it’s not a treasure map. It says “Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776” and is thought to have been added to identify the rolled-up parchment.
9. Americans spend more than $1 billion each year on fireworks, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association. There are an estimated 12,900 fireworks-related injuries requiring emergency room visits annually.
10. Inscribed on the Liberty Bell is a Bible verse from Leviticus: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” Though the bell was created in 1752, it did not become a national icon until the years leading up to the Civil War, when anti-slavery advocates adopted it as a symbol of freedom for all.
Sources: Hocking College, WCBD News, CNN
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