How a teen's history project in 1958 became the U.S.'s official flag

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Robert G. Heft once sat patiently at an autograph signing in Dallas while hundreds of people flocked to NBA legend Michael Jordan to claim one of his $30 signatures.

Standing in Heft's 10-person line, a boy asked his father why they were waiting for the autograph of a man he'd never seen. The father replied that Heft — who designed America's 50-star flag — is a piece of history.

Although he'll grace the pages of history books one day for his accomplishment, Heft, 64, of Thomas Township, Mich., doesn't place himself on a pedestal.

"I never look at myself like anything special," Heft said recently. "I consider myself just a regular person."

Last fall, Heft put up the 48-year-old banner that he sewed as a high school history project on eBay and set the price at $250,000. Although the item received more than 10,000 hits during two 10-day bidding periods, Heft said he didn't get any serious offers.

A year later, he's happy that the flag — now in a glass case for preservation — still is safe with him.

"One thing I was concerned about was where it would end up," said Heft, a retired professor from Northwest State Community College in Archbold, Ohio.

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