ON THIS DATE in 1927, thirteen-year-old Benny Benson had his flag design selected by the U.S. territory of Alaska. The seventh-grader had submitted a design of the Big Dipper and the North Star on a dark-blue background. “The blue field is for the Alaska sky and the forget-me-not, an Alaska flower,” Benson said. “The North Star is for the future of the state of Alaska, the most northerly in the Union. The dipper is for the Great Bear, symbolizing strength.”

Benson’s winning design was one of 142 entries submitted by Alaskan children from grades 7 through 12, When he heard that he’d won he “darn near fell out of my seat,” he said in 1971. Benson was rewarded with a watch and a $1000 educational scholarship, which he used to study diesel mechanics.

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