Fort De Soto Park - Long May She Wave

Long May She Wave

By Waldo Rowell

From sea to shining sea

Flag in front of Battery Laidley

This flag flies in front of Battery Laidley.

Take a close look at the American flag that flies in front of Battery Laidley. Do you notice anything different about this flag from the other American flags that we see in so many places?

Do you wonder why there are two flags on this page? Do they look exactly alike to you?

Now, count the stars in both flags.

The flag that flies at Battery Laidley has only 45 stars. Do you wonder why? This flag is a replica of the American flag that was flown everywhere in the United States between 1898 and 1907. When the building of Fort de Soto began in 1898, a flag like this one would have been flown.

This flag has only 45 stars, in 3 rows of 8, plus 3 rows of 7, for a total of 45 stars. The reason is that there were just 45 states in the Union at that time.

Current American flag

This is the current flag.

One question that is usually asked on history tours at Fort De Soto: "Can you name the states that were not part of the United State in 1898?" Almost everyone will first name Alaska and Hawaii. Some will also name Arizona and New Mexico.

Very few will remember Oklahoma, the state that was admitted to the Union some years before the others. If you were able to name Oklahoma, then you are a real history buff!

Here is the list of states:

  • Oklahoma, admitted November 16, 1907
  • New Mexico, admitted January 6, 1912
  • Arizona, admitted February 14, 1912
  • Alaska, admitted January 3, 1959
  • Hawaii, admitted August 21, 1959

Next time you come to Fort De Soto Park, do look carefully at the flag in front of the battery and notice it represents a particular period in our history. When you visit any historic site, notice the flag that is flying; it too may represent a special time in America's history.

Waldo Rowell is a Volunteer History Docent who conducts fort history tours.

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