Our friend Jim Stanley posted this on Facebook.
Population count seems too low, doesn’t it? Must be a pretty tight filter.
The great service at the New York Times site, the Learning Network, notes the 1959 Dwight Eisenhower proclamation of Alaska as the 49th state, and the unveiling of the 49-star flag:
On Jan. 3, 1959, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a proclamation admitting Alaska to the Union as the 49th state. The New York Times noted that the signing included the unveiling of the new 49-star American flag.
The land that became Alaska came into U.S. possession in 1867, when William Seward, secretary of state under President Andrew Johnson, negotiated a deal to buy the 586,000-square-mile area from Russia for $7.2 million, less than 2 cents per acre. Seward’s decision was ridiculed in the American press, who saw no potential in the vast, inhospitable and sparsely populated area.
For decades after its purchase, Alaska was derided as “Seward’s folly” or “Seward’s icebox.” This opinion changed in 1896 with the discovery of gold in the neighboring Yukon Territory, which spurred tens of thousands of people to head to Alaska in search of gold. The gold rush also brought about a boom in mining, fishing and trapping.
Though the first statehood bill had been presented to Congress in 1916, there was little desire in either Alaska or Washington for Alaskan statehood until after World War II. During the war, the U.S. established multiple military bases to resist Japan’s attacks on Alaska’s Aleutian Islands and prevent a potential invasion of the mainland. The military activity, along with the completion of a major highway from Montana, led to a large population growth.
In 1946, Alaskans voted in favor of statehood in a referendum and Alaskan delegates began to lobby Congress for statehood. After years of debate, Congress voted in June 1958 to admit Alaska.
Eight months after Alaska’s admission, on Aug. 21, 1957 [should be 1959, no?], Hawaii became the 50th state. The 49-star remained in place until the following July 4, when it was replaced by the now-familiar 50-star flag.
49-star flags were produced only until August 1959, so there are few of them around. I love this photo of the unveiling of the flag with President Eisenhower:
It had been about 47 years since the previous state admission (Arizona); people became aware that no law set what the flag should look like. President Eisenhower issued a directive.
How did the nation survive for 170 years without firm, decisive and conclusive orders on what the flag should look like? Isn’t it a great story that we went so long without law setting the requirements?
Alaska’s state flag came from the imagination of a 13-year-old Aleut, Benny Benson, winning a contest to design the state’s flag. Alaska’s flag stands out in any display of U.S. state flags.
Hawaii’s official statehood day is August 21, commemorating the day in 1959 when Hawaii was recognized as a member of the union of the United States of America. Hawaiians should fly their flags to day in honor of the date (you may, too).
Hawaii formally celebrates the day on the third Friday in August (last Friday, for 2013). I hope you joined in the festivities (it’s a holiday in Hawaii) — but under the U.S. Flag Code, you may certainly fly your flags on August 21, regardless which day of the week that is.
After the U.S. annexed Hawaii in 1898 (in action separate from the Spanish-American War) attempts at getting Hawaii admitted as a state got rolling. After World War II, with the strategic importance of the islands firmly implanted in Americans’ minds, the project picked up some steam. Still, it was 14 years after the end of the war that agreements were worked out between the people of Hawaii, the Hawaiian royal family, Congress and the executive branch. The deal passed into law had to be ratified by a plebiscite among Hawaiian citizens. The proposition won approval with 94% of votes in favor.
Some native Hawaiian opposition to statehood arose later, and deference to those complaints has muted statehood celebrations in the 21st century.
Other than the tiny handful of loudmouth birthers, most Americans today are happy to have Hawaii as a state, the fifth richest in the U.S. by personal income. The nation has a lot of good and great beaches, but the idea of catching sun and surf in Hawaii on vacation might be considered an idealized part of the American dream.
Here’s a photograph of one of the greatest, and longest-running tragedies of our time.
No, that’s not a stretch of water in the red circle. That’s North Korea, at night, blacked out by a lack of electrical lights.
It’s a photo from the International Space Station taken in January.
The KnowMore blog from the Post describes the tragedy, and points to even more disturbing stories:
North Korea appears as nothing more than a shadow in the above photograph, taken at night aboard the International Space Station last month. South Korea’s eastern coastline is indistinguishable from the demilitarized zone along the border with the North, as though the Sea of Japan flowed into the Yellow Sea and Pyongyang were an island in a strait separating South Korea from China.
North Korea’s interior is nearly invisible from orbit at night, just as what happens inside the country on a day-to-day basis is largely invisible to the outside world. U.N. investigators managed to shine a little light into North Korea’s darkest corners last month. [Click here to get to the U.N. report]
I’ve used similar photos in class. It’s a powerful exercise. North Korea is as dark as undeveloped and largely unpopulated areas of the Congo River Basin, the Australian Outback, the Arabian Peninsula’s “Empty Quarter,” and almost as dark as Antarctica.
No doubt stargazing is good in some of those dark spots in North Korea. This is one case where the absence of light pollution does NOT indicate good planning, but instead an amazing paucity of rational development.
Found this at the Facebook site of Texas Hill Country. A little rough for high school geography, especially if it’s ninth grade geography (surely you can moderate this a bit, teachers), but a good idea for a quiz?
How well can your students do labeling the U.S.? Will they find this person’s obvious anguish and creative non-answers amusing? Can they do better?
Now turn the tables: How well can your students in the U.S. do labeling a map of Australia? Canada? Mexico?
Ask your students: Is it important to know such stuff? Why?
And you, Dear Reader: What do you think?
Here you go, a map of Australia to practice with:
We had to fight to keep this stuff in Texas science books.
Then, out on the street, I see a U-Haul truck.
Well played, U-Haul. Can Texas catch up?
Update, October 24, 2013: Turns out U-Haul has a website that features all of the graphics they use on their trucks. I sense a geography or state history assignment in here, somewhere, social studies teachers. Reminds me of the animals that used to (still do?) grace the tails of Frontier Airlines airplanes, the Native American on the tails of Alaska Airlines, and other specific destination promoting tricks businesses have used over the years. Wish more businesses would do that.