Flags in council chambers offer snapshots of U.S. history

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Star-spangled banners decorate the side wall of Blaine’s council chambers, with three framed American flags representing different eras of U.S. history. Below each flag is a brief note about the flag’s history.

Located on the fourth floor of 435 Martin Street, the trilogy begins with a 48-star flag encased in a gold frame and yellowed with age. The 1912 flag was created after Arizona and New Mexico gained statehood under President William Taft. It is the second longest-running flag in U.S. history.

“The flag is iconic in a way because there were 48 states at the time I was born and since then two states have been added,” said Mike Myers, who was born in 1932 and donated the three American flags while serving on Blaine city council from 2000 to 2008.

Myers, who was also the mayor of Blaine during the end of his council term from 2006 to 2008, said the flags were most likely given to him while he was serving as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy, although he doesn’t remember their exact origins.

The next flag in the series, the 49-star flag, is distinguished by an extra star that symbolizes the addition of Alaska in 1959 under President Dwight Eisenhower. This flag’s tenure was cut short just one year later, when the American flag was updated yet again to reflect the addition of the nation’s most recent state, Hawaii, in 1960.

For Myers, the flags represent American pride. “I’m proud to be an American and I think our flag is very representative of our country,” he said.

Before donating them to the city of Blaine, Myers found the flags in his house, where he also keeps a calendar to remind him of all the flag days on which to display America’s stars and stripes. Memorial Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day are holidays guaranteed to have the American flag hanging outside of Myers’ home.

America’s current flag is found not only in Blaine’s council chambers, but also throughout the nation’s schools, neighborhoods and government buildings. Faded versions even exist on the moon’s surface.

The 50-star flag is the current flag of the U.S. and holds the record as the longest-running flag in U.S. history. It was created under President Eisenhower and became the official flag on July 4, 1960.

Together, the three flags framed in the Blaine council chambers represent over a century of American history. During this time of crisis, as the council chambers are closed off to the public, the flags are a reminder of the country’s history, its grit and its enduring promise.

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