Wednesday, December 16, 2009

50 Stars: The Rest of the Story

The photo is a clipping of the first time I appeared in a church publication, the monthly newspaper of the old Pacific Southwest Synod, LCA. The date, as you can see (click for a larger version), is January 1971. The names aren't listed in the order we're standing: its Mr. Pfundstein, me, Bruce, Greg, Ken, and Jon. Here's the story.

I first went to camp when I was 11. It was one week in the summer of 1970 at Camp Yolijwa, the Synod's camp outside Yucaipa, California. That's in the mountains east of San Bernardino. I had never been that far "back east" before. I'd never been away from home that long before.

First thing every morning we'd all gather at the flag pole to raise the colors and say the Pledge of Allegiance. "Hey," I whispered to one of my friends the first day, "you notice anything about that flag?" The stars looked different. It was a 48-star flag! For boys who had been born the year Alaska and Hawaii were admitted to the Union, we thought it was pretty pathetic that the church camp would have an out-of-date flag.

Naturally that became an item of conversation when The Odd Squad -- Bruce, Greg, Jon, and I were all in the same Sunday School class, Ken was a year ahead (and who'd been trying to get all of us to Yolijwa) -- and we'd been we palling around Resurrection, were in the choir, etc. -- came home. I don't recall who gave us that moniker, but I'm thinking we were tagged with it shortly after The Mod Squad came on the air. None of us, of course, were anything as cool as Linc, Pete, and Julie.

Several weeks later, Pastor Gibson gathered us all together at church and took us to one of the Canoga Park mortuaries, where we were presented with a brand new 50-star flag. Which we then presented to Mr. Pfundstein, who came up to the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Canoga Park from the Synod Office.

I've intended at some point to tell that story here just because. The old Odd Squad doesn't have much contact with each any more. Bruce and his family would move away after we were conffirmed and his dad got a new job in Ohio. He's an ELCA pastor in Reading, Pennsylvania. The rest of us stayed in the West Valley through high school. Ken went to ULCA and, after working a while at Hughes Aircraft, headed to Silicon Valley -- his older brother (Wayne) is an ELCA pastor in Port Byron, Illinois. Jon and Greg went to Humboldt State and made their lives elsewhere. Jon is the Director of the New York Aquarium.; Greg (last I heard) is with the Portland, Oregon, water works.

So why "the rest of the story?" That showed up Monday over at the pretty good lutherans blog, which I recently discovered as a fine source for ELCA news.
Robert Heft, the designer of the 50-star U.S. flag, died Saturday at Covenant Medical Center in Saginaw, Mich. He was 67.

Heft created the flag in 1958 for a high school project. He was 17-years-old and a junior at Lancaster High School in Lancaster, Ohio.

He received a B- for the project, but the teacher eventually changed his grade to an A.

“His interest in flags originally came from his volunteer work as a former Boy Scout,” his newspaper obituary said. “Bob was a very proud American. He devoted his life to inspiring others.”

President Dwight Eisenhower chose Heft’s design to replace the 48-star flag. At the time, Alaska and Hawaii were expected to soon make the country a 50-state nation.
Should you read it all here, you'll discover that Mr. Heft was -- a Lutheran.

1 comment:

Melanchthon said...

Thanks for a great story and wonderful picture. Next time I look at the flag I will think of you.