Friday, August 21, 2009


Today marks the fiftieth year of the United States consisting of fifty States... for it was on this day in 1959 that Hawai‘i joined the Union.

This is the second big anniversary this week. Monday marked the fiftieth anniversary of the release of Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue, considered by many to be the Magnum Opus of cool jazz. It is the best-selling jazz album of all time.

It is entirely conceivable that people watched the Hawai‘i Statehood Ceremonies whilst listening to what was then a brand-new record, the historical import of which was then unknown, unthought-of.

I’m old enough to remember when Hawai‘i became a state. I was in second grade at the time.

Alaska had joined the Union in January of that same year. The familiar Star Spangled Banner, with its field of forty-eight stars arranged in six rows of eight stars each, was replaced by a new flag with forty-nine stars - seven rows of seven stars.

That forty-nine-star flag was short-lived. It flew for a little over seven months, and then along came State Number Fifty.

Rearranging the flag’s union to accommodate that fiftieth star was tricky. The solution? Five rows of six stars, interspersed with four rows of five stars. Most of my Esteemed Readers, I suspect, have known this version of the flag all their lives.

But I remember that weird 49-star flag... and the one that preceded it.

Fifty states. Fifty stars. Fifty years. Nifty, huh?

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