48-star flag finds a new home at American Legion Post 697

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From left: Post Commander Fred Schrum and Suzanne and Jim Long hold up the flag for post members to see the field of 48 stars. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Jim and Suzanne Long donate family heirloom

by Melanie Jongsma

LANSING, Ill. (September 17, 2019) – For 47 years—from 1912 until 1959—America’s flag had 48 stars. Both New Mexico and Arizona were added as states in 1912, and on July 4 of that year, President William Taft through Executive Order declared that the stars should be arranged in six horizontal rows of eight each, with a single point of each star pointing upward.

Jim and Suzanne have owned a 48-star flag for many years. Suzanne’s father was a marine and Jim’s uncle was in the army, both serving during World War II, which lasted from 1939–1945. The flag has been in Jim’s family since that era. A recent move forced the Longs to downsize, and they came across the 48-star flag in storage and decided it needed a better home.

Having made American Legion Post 697 aware of their intended donation, the Longs were invited to the Post meeting on September 11, where they presented the flag to Post Commander Fred Schrum. Suzanne told the post members, “We would like to donate it to the post and have it taken care of in the manner that it deserves.”

Suzanne (center) and Jim Long (right) present their 48-star American flag to Post Commander Fred Schrum during the September 11, 2019, meeting. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

The 48-star flag is quite common, mainly because it represented America longer than any previous flag, “through two World Wars and the emergence of the United States of America as the leading nation of the world,” says usflag.org. “Eight Presidents served under this flag; William H. Taft (1909-1913), Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921), Warren Harding (1921-1923), Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929), Herbert Hoover (1929-1933), Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945), Harry S.Truman (1945-1953), and Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961).”

“Many historic flags are worn, old and frail,” writes rare flag collector Anthony Iasso (www.rareflags.com/RareFlags_FAQ.htm). “Their condition would be considered unserviceable by most standards, yet their historic and cultural value is immense. Historic flags should be preserved and protected.”

Plans are being made for the construction of a display case for the Longs’ donated flag, so it can be shown in its entirety.

From left: Post Commander Fred Schrum and Suzanne and Jim Long hold up the flag for post members to see the field of 48 stars. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

New flag designs are always officially adopted on the July 4 that follows a new state’s admission into the union. When Alaska was admitted as a state in January of 1959, a 49-star flag became America’s emblem on July 4 of that same year. The 50-star flag was adopted on July 4 of 1960, after Hawaii gained statehood in August of 1959.

America’s current 50-star flag has been in existence for 59 years, longer than any previous flag design.