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Heroes

Nasa has released the most mind-blowing picture of space. Seriously. Holy cow.

The Hubble Space Telescope has been sending us back eye-popping pictures for a long time now, but this one may top them all. Profound.

Look what the folks at NASA/ESA just did.

They've released the most incredibly detailed panoramic picture from the Hubble Space Telescope of one of our celestial neighbors, the Andromeda galaxy. Know that one?

Here's where Andromeda is.


The image is actually 411 high-resolution photos stitched together seamlessly to make one honkin' big super-image. The full version is 3.9 billion pixels in size and takes up 4.3 GBof hard drive space. It's a huge picture, a picture totally packed with detail. That's why it's so awesome to zoom in and around it.

You can go from this…

That's a lot of stars.

To this…

Yipes. Wait. Every dot is a star?

To this.

Wow.

It's just more and more stars upon stars upon stars. Whew.

The feeling I get from this image is profound.

It's hard to roam through the heavens like this without having a bit of a spiritual experience. At first, of course, it's just mind-blowing to think of how many stars there are. And how many planets. What an astounding thing to be part of, as Neil deGrasse Tyson put it here.

Is it possible there's nowhere like Earth out there?

Doesn't seem that way to me.

Could there really be no other life among all those stars?

There has to be, right?

But here's the thing.

In all of this incredible hugeness, way down on one side, tucked away in the corner, is a little blue ocean-covered ball. And I find that just thinking the word "home" has a new meaning for me now, full of warmth and a deep sense of, well, love. How precious this place is. How lucky we are to be here. And how foolish we'd be to ruin it.

Here's a video tour of the panorama, and here's where you can go exploring Andromeda on your own.

Bye, now. See ya when you get back.

Fact-Check Time: The video says the full image is only 1.5 billion pixels. Only —ha! That's referring to one of the copped versions NASA released. The original is 3.9 billion pixels.

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3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Joy

Comedian shares what cats would say if they could talk and it's hilariously accurate

"I just threw up in the bedroom if you want to go and sort that out…"

Photo by Daria Shatova on Unsplash

Cats are quirky, comedic creatures.

Despite the fact that they only speak in purrs, meows, and other cat sounds, cats do communicate with humans. They have their "I'm so cute, don't you want to feed me?" face. There's their "I will not be ignored" shenanigans when they want your attention and their side-eyes of disdain when they don't. They sleep all day in the most random places only to wake you with their thunderpaws romping through the house at 2:00 a.m., and they flat-out refuse to acknowledge your existence in public.

Cats may not speak English—or any human language, for that matter—but what if they could? British comedian Jake Lambert shared a viral cat-to-English translation video imagining what they'd say, and it's hilariously spot on.


"Wake up! I'm hungry and bored and want attention! Hellooooo," he calls from outside the bedroom door.

"I am shattered," he says next, yawning. "I was up all night trying to wake you up! Anyway, I'm gonna go sleep in a really impractical spot for about five hours, see you in a bit."

Every scenario is one cat owners have experienced at least once, but most likely live with on a semi-daily basis.

Watch:

People found Lambert's interpretations to be 100% accurate.

"My cats are demanding royalties for the script, 😂" wrote one commenter.

"Hahahaha the zero second warning between happy and absolutely raging," wrote another.

"Cats are such great teachers," quipped another. "Right now I'm taking a PhD in getting rejected and respecting boundaries (just not my own) 😆🐈⬛."

"Have watched this about 5 times since yesterday and laugh out loud every time especially the ear scratch bliss to hiss 😹 this is why cats scare me 😂," offered another.

Other people offered their own additions to the cat conversation:

"You missed ‘I really like this food you should buy it again’ closely followed by ‘I hate this food, why would you ever consider buying it?’"

"Plus dramatically gagging over the same thing he chowed down on the previous day. 😂"

"This would be my cat: *enters living room meowing and a waft of crap follows* 'Just did a dump in my litter tray, can you clean it asap so I can do another in 5 minutes?'"

"Also: 'please change my menu at least 3 times in each feeding as I’m not sure what I’ll fancy.'"

"All correct, together with the standing by the front (or back) door undecided on whether he wants to be inside or outside of the house. 🤦"

Cat comedy never gets old, and it's delightful to know that house cats are the same quirky, mysterious, goofy companions no matter what country their owners live in.

You can follow Jake Lambert on Instagram.

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Woman shocked to learn about the history of the English alphabet.

An eye-opening video on TikTok by @ZachDFilms3 is an excellent example of how language constantly evolves. In a video with over 900,000 views, he explains that the English language had a 27th letter a little more than 200 years ago.

ZachDFilms3 is popular on TikTok for creating videos that explain surprising facts about science and history.

In a video posted on March 6, he surprised many by revealing that the ampersand ( or "&") once came after the letter Z in the English alphabet. “This is an ampersand and believe it or not, it used to be the 27th letter in the alphabet. You see, back in the day, this symbol came after the letter Z and signified the word 'and,’" he shares in the video.

However, incorporating the letter into lessons for English-speaking kids was a problem.



“But when reciting the alphabet, students weren't allowed to just say 'and' after Z. Instead, they were taught to differentiate the symbol by saying 'per se' before it, which sounded something like this: Q R S T U V W X Y Z &. And 'per se &' ampersand."

@zachdfilms3

Why Highway Signs Are Green 🤨

The melding of the words “and per se” eventually led to the strange symbol called the “ampersand.” According to ON Words, other names for the symbol included ampazad and zumy-zan, but they failed to take hold with the general public.

It’s believed that the symbol got its name around 1835, but it ceased to be part of the English alphabet by the late 19th century.

The symbol dates back to over 1700 years ago when Roman scribes wrote in cursive and commonly used the Latin word “et,” which means “and.” So, the cursive combinations of the E and T together came to symbolize “and.” The symbol evolved over decades into the ampersand we know and love today.



These days, the ampersand is relegated to informal English and is mainly used as an abbreviation or in the names of businesses (AT&T, US News & World Report) or partnerships (Simon & Garfunkel, Jacoby & Meyers). However, it’s doing far better than the 5 other letters ditched from the original Old English alphabet recorded in 1011 by the monk Byrhtferð.

In the original Old English alphabet, there were 29 letters, which included the ampersand and 5 additional English letters: Long S (ſ), Eth (Ð and ð), Thorn (þ), Wynn (ƿ) and Ash (ᚫ; later Æ and æ). During that time, 3 new letters were added: J, U and W.

So whenever people get stuffy about new slang that they are using or changes in style or grammar, remind them that language is ever-evolving and that what we accept as standard today may be archaic in just a few decades. As the writer Rita Mae Brown once remarked, "Language is the roadmap of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going." So, when a language becomes static, it’s safe to say that those who use it have failed to evolve as well.

klem528/Reddit via Upworthy/Instagram (left), Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash (right)

A small act of kindness can make a big difference.

No matter who we are or where we live, we all have occasional bad days—and it can be surprising how quickly someone's words or actions can make your day worse or better.

A woman shared a story on Reddit that showcases how one small and simple act of kindness can have a big lasting impact, prompting others to share their own stories.

Reddit user klem528 explained that she was "having a day" and crying in her car as she pulled into a frozen yogurt store parking lot one day.

"I caught a glimpse of a teenage girl and dad in the car next to me while I was crying," she wrote. "When I came back after eating the fro you, their car was gone but this was in my door handle."

The photo shows a $10 bill with a note bedecked with hearts that reads, "Your fro-yo is on us. We hope tomorrow is a better day."

People loved the example of strangers taking the time and money to help a fellow human being feel a little less alone and began sharing their own stories of random kindnesses.

"I was at the self checkout at Walmart a few months back. This mother and her child id seen a couple times were checking out. Her son was a saint. The whole time, he would help her grab stuff off shelves. Was very polite to other people in the store if they were in his way.

Anyway, they're checking out, and he had this toy and his mother apologized and told him she couldn't get it. The kid seemed upset about it, but went and took it to the woman over the self checkout.

As he was walking back, a girl who was still checking out asked for it, and bought it for him. Took it over to him, and this kid burst into tears and thanked her. The woman who bought it asked if he'd be good for his mom, and this poor kid was choking back more tears, shaking his head yes. The mother also choking back tears a bit and thanked her.

It made my heart warm that day. I've tried to do little acts of kindness more since then." – Shawnessy

"One day, I was on my way home with a friend when I was stopped at the pump by a young woman who was nearly hysterical, dressed up and shaking her hands out. 'Please, please do you have $5? I haven’t had a job in months, I’m on my way to an interview, and I need just enough gas to get there. Please?'

I filled her tank as full as it could go. I got back in the car after her thanks and watching her speed away, and my friend says, without even looking up from her phone, 'Know you just got taken for a ride, don’t you? She probably didn’t have an interview.'

But I just shrugged and said, 'But maybe she did.' I think about her often. Maybe I did lose $30. But maybe I helped a young mother (saw the car seat in her back) find a job and provide for her family. Either way, I did it because I wanted to help someone, and it’s on them if they lied. The world might be a lot nicer if we stopped assuming everyone’s out to get us. – KaythuluCrewe

"Last summer my best friend in the whole world and I had a complete falling out. I was sobbing in the Starbucks drive thru a few days later, I was feeling miserable and the woman in front of me payed for my drink and told the barista to tell me it’ll get better 😭😭 I cried.

There really are good people out there. I hope tomorrow is better xo" – haleymichal

"I once went into Starbucks and I was having such a hard day, my uncle died, boyfriend and I broke up, work was being really hard on me. I couldn’t hold back my tears when I went to order and the barista gave it to me for free. I’ve never been so grateful for such a small, kind gesture on a terrible day. I’ve never forgot it and I doubt I ever will. Small acts of kindness matter." – venusdances

"I went to Chick-fil-A the morning after my husband passed away to get my daughter something to eat. The girl taking my order said, “you look like you need a hug. Can I hug you?” I sobbed in that girl’s arms for a solid 5 min. Another employee routed cars to the other lane, and she kept telling me, “who cares about those cars, it’s about you right now.” I will never forget the kindness of this young lady who couldn’t have been older than 18-19, did not know my circumstance. She just made it her mission to comfort me that day. ❤️😪" – beachbaby5

"I was in Lowe’s the first Mother’s Day after losing my own mom to buy plants for my garden. I was so late to checkout inside that the registers were closed. I apologized and said it wasn’t the best day. Not only did they open a register for me, but the cashier went in the back and brought me a gift bag full of candy that they gave to all employees who were moms that day. I will never forget her face or her kindness." – carpalmieri

"I lost my dog 7 months ago. I’m very sad and having a really hard time. I went to the park we always visited for our fifteen years together. I was walking and crying behind my sunglasses. I was with my other dog ( she is having a really hard time too). A lady passed by and stopped me to ask about my dog and pet her. As I was answering, she asked if I was ok, because my voice was shaky. I said I was so sorry I was just thinking about my dog that passed away and really miss him, but that that we go there to feel him close, it was his favorite place. She started crying and hugged me, and told me I was a good dog mother. Small acts are HUGE for the ones in need. I needed that hug. 💜" – delphinacoscia

On one of the very worst days I can remember in years, my partner and I pulled over on a road trip to deal with some bad news. A woman in the parking lot passed two ice cream cones into our car windows. And that memory makes the hard day so much better in the rear view mirror. Kind strangers make the world such a better place ❤️" – neuro_fuzzy

The original poster who posted the story three years ago shared that she still keeps the $10 bill and note in her glove compartment. You just never know how a small act can boost someone's mood and offer a much-needed sense of hope. Imagine the world we could build if we all went out of our way to lift someone's spirits and remind them they're not alone.

If you enjoyed this story and would like to read more like it, check out our new book, "GOOD PEOPLE: Stories From the Best of Humanity," now available for pre-order.


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11 fascinating facts—and one myth—about the American flag that you probably didn't know

Did you know this famous symbol of freedom came from a B- school project?

Photo by Robert Linder on Unsplash

There's a whole lot of story behind the American flag.

The Stars and Stripes, Old Glory, the Star-Spangled Banner — whatever you call it, the United States flag is one of the most recognizable symbols on Earth.

As famous as it is, there's still a lot you might not know about our shining symbol of freedom. For instance, did you know that on some flags, the stars used to point in different directions? Or that there used to be more than 13 stripes? How about a gut-check on all those star-spangled swimsuits you see popping up in stores around the Fourth of July?

We'll explore these topics and more in this fun list of 12 facts about the U.S. flag that you might not know about.


1. Betsy Ross, the woman often credited with sewing the first American flag, probably didn't — or at the very least, there's no proof that she did.

Legend has it that in 1776, a seamstress named Betsy Ross was approached in her shop by George Washington himself and was asked to help develop a flag for this soon-to-be-nation. Supposedly, she rejected the designs Washington presented to her and made a number of suggestions that would end up in the final version of the first American flag.

It's a great story that humanizes Washington as a man humble enough to take feedback and gives Ross a boost as being uncharacteristically assertive for a woman in 18th-century America.

But the bad news is that this probably never happened. It was nearly 100 years before anybody spoke of Betsy Ross or her role in designing the flag. Most of what we know of this story came from her grandson, William Canby.

Unfortunately, though historians have long tried to verify any of the facts involved in Canby's story, there's nothing to suggest that Washington set out to commission a flag in 1776. In fact, it wasn't until 1777 that Congress even passed a resolution ordering a flag to be made. Sure, it's possible that Camby's account of his grandmother's story happened, but it's more likely that this is simply an unverifiable piece of American lore.

2. It wasn't until 1912 that the government standardized the proportions of the flag and the arrangement of its stars.

While most countries's flags are rectangular, there are a few exceptions. In 1912, President Taft issued an executive order creating a uniform look for the flag — as prior to that, there were some interesting designs, with multiple flags sometimes in use simultaneously.

The executive order mandated that stars on the flag point upward, all in the same direction, and be placed in six horizontal rows of eight.

3. We all know the flag has 13 stripes, but for 23 years, it had 15.

Up until 1795, the flag had one stripe and one star for each of the 13 states. After Vermont and Kentucky were added to the union in 1791 and 1792, respectively, the flag was due for its first major redesign in the country's history. Not only were two stars added to the blue field to represent the new states (a tradition that continues to this day), but designers also added two stripes.

The 15-star, 15-stripe flag existed from 1795 until 1818, when five more states were added. Designers realized that adding more stripes would quickly become unwieldy, so they dropped the stripe count back to 13.

Kentucky, Vermont, American flag, Union, 1795

After Kentucky and Vermont joined the union 2 stripes and stars were added to the flag.

www.gettysburgflag.com

4. We still honor the 15-star, 15-stripe flag today, as it's the specific flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The outcast of all American flags lives on through the power of song. Key wrote "Defence of Fort M'Henry," a poem about his experience watching from the Baltimore harbor as an American fort took fire from British troops during the War of 1812. In 1916, more than 100 years after its first publication, Key's poem became our national anthem.

5. Yes, the Flag Code is the law. No, there's no penalty for breaking it.

The U.S. Flag Code was signed into law by President Roosevelt on June 22, 1942. While it's filed under Title 18 of the U.S. Code ("Crimes and Criminal Procedure"), the Flag Code exists as more of an etiquette guide than anything else.

So if you leave your flag up past sundown, that's technically illegal — but no one's going to arrest you for it.

6. When it comes to showing respect for the flag, there are 11 specific instructions to follow.

There's a whole section of the U.S. Flag Code on how to show respect for the flag. Since this is a topic that gets discussed quite a bit lately, it's worth a quick review of some of the highlights:

  • Unless you're trying to signal distress "in instances of extreme danger to life or property," you shouldn't display it with the union (the field of blue with white stars) facing downward.
  • The flag should never touch the floor and should never be carried horizontally or flat, but "always aloft and free."
  • You're not supposed to wear the flag nor print its image on "anything that is designed for temporary use" (napkins, for example). Don't use it in advertisements, either.
  • "No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform."

7. You're supposed to fly the flag on Christmas.

The Code says that "the flag should be displayed on all days," but puts special emphasis on the following holidays: New Year's Day, Inauguration Day, Lincoln's Birthday, Washington's Birthday, Easter, Mother's Day, Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day (the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon), Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Constitution Day, Columbus Day, Navy Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

The Code adds that states should display the U.S. flag on the anniversary of their admission to the union, on state holidays, and on any day observed by presidential proclamation.

8. If the U.S. ever adds a 51st state, the flag won't be updated until the following Independence Day.

The flag won't be getting any major redesigns in the near future, save for the addition of a star here and there. The Code reads:

"On the admission of a new State into the Union one star shall be added to the union of the flag; and such addition shall take effect on the fourth day of July then next succeeding such admission."

9. Flag Day dates back to the 1880s but wasn't made an official U.S. holiday until 1949.

It's thought that schoolteacher Bernard J. Cigrand was the first person to celebrate Flag Day, commemorating the 108th anniversary of the 1777 Flag Resolution (which outlined the flag's basic design) on June 14, 1885. The tradition caught on among schools and, eventually, states.

In 1916, President Wilson established Flag Day through proclamation. In 1949, Congress passed and President Truman signed a bill making the holiday official.

10. The design for the current 50-star flag came from a high school student's U.S. history project — which initially got a B-.

In 1958, Bob Heft was a junior in high school. In a 2009 interview with StoryCorps, Heft recounted what happened when he turned in a history project featuring a 50-star flag. Heft's teacher gave him a B-, noting that he had the wrong number of stars on the flag (at the time, there were only 48 states).

When Heft expressed disappointment, his teacher said, "If you don't like the grade, get it accepted in Washington, then come back and see me."

After Alaska and Hawaii became states, the U.S. adopted Heft's flag. He got a call from President Eisenhower and, more importantly, an updated grade on his project.

11. The Pledge of Allegiance was, in part, created as a gimmick to sell U.S. flags to schools.

The pledge's history is fascinating and filled with controversy. Many know that it wasn't until 1954 that the words "under God" were added to the pledge in response to the Red Scare, but what's less discussed is the origin and purpose of the pledge itself.

Socialist minister Francis Bellamy penned the original pledge for an 1892 issue of The Youth's Companion as a way to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus' journey. The magazine offered U.S. flags to subscribers, and Bellamy and the magazine lobbied public schools to adopt his pledge as a show of patriotism. It was successful, too, selling tens of thousands of new subscriptions and flags. In hindsight, it's a bit ironic that this lasting ode to America began as a socialist's capitalist experiment.

12. No one is sure why we chose red, white, and blue as the color of our flag, but an explanation was made retroactively.

In 1782, Secretary of Congress Charles Thomson explained the significance of the colors red, white, and blue during the design of the official seal of the U.S.:

“The colours of the pales are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness and valour, and Blue, the colour of the Chief signifies vigilance, perseverance, and justice."

Ever since, we've just gone with that.


This article originally appeared on 4.3.16

Photo collage created from Pixabay

Some different perspectives on the American experience.

Some 300 million people live in the United States. And over 40 million of them are immigrants.

Now, some people might have you believe that too many immigrants might cause us to lose our identity as Americans or that we ought to be fighting and clinging to "the way things were."

But if you look around, you'll see that more than 1 in 10 Americans were born somewhere else — meaning they have their own unique set of amazing experiences to share and their own amazing stories about why they're here.


They each have their own ideas about what being an American means to them, too. And they each have their own reasons for celebrating American independence on the Fourth of July.

So if you want to feel proud, excited, and maybe even a teensy bit emotional about being an American, this one's for you.

Meet five immigrants from all over the country (and all over the world!) who are showing their American pride in many, many shades of red, white, and blue this year.

Mexican American experience, traditional, celebration

Traditional food the celebrate the Fourth of July.

Photo by Chad Montano on Unsplash

1. Nayeli Ruvalcaba's Fourth of July is full of traditional Mexican food and mariachi music.

Ruvalcaba, who was born in Mexico but moved to Chicago when she was 4, spent her early childhood in a mostly caucasian neighborhood called Lakeview. There, she says the Fourth of July was pretty much what you'd expect.

"Everyone would be making ribs and burgers and mac and cheese. And my dad would be drinking Budweisers and Coors Light," she said with a laugh.

Nayeli with her parents.

But when she was 16, she moved to a more diverse area of the city filled with families from Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Poland.

There, she says, their holidays are much more vibrant. Neighbors gather in the alleys and share their customs and cultures with one another. They sing along with music (her boyfriend, who is in a mariachi band, often gets the party going). They play games. And then there's the food: Nayeli says she loves to chow down on delicious Fourth of July dishes like arrachera (a Mexican skirt steak), polish sausage, guacamole, and, of course, burgers.

"I know it's an American holiday," she says. "Buteveryone has their own culture. You just mix it in with what everyoneelse does."

Nayeli and her boyfriend in full mariachi get-up!

watermelon, English tea, mishmash of culture

Celebrating with a U.K. twist on the Fourth of July.

Photo by Caju Gomes on Unsplash

2. Johanna Dodd and her family celebrate their Fourth of July the "old fashioned way" but with a small U.K.-based twist.

A one-year work contract for her husband brought the Dodds to Connecticut from the U.K. years ago. 12 years later, they're still here.

The Dodds!

On their Fourth of July, she says, "We tend to do what everyone else in town does. We'll head to the fireworks display with our cooler packed full of food, and, occasionally, we'll sneak in some alcohol."

Sounds pretty American to me!

Johanna's young daughter watches the fireworks.

"The kids run around, there's lots of glow sticks, lots of football (both kinds) being played, lots of fun stuff happening. As it gets darker, there's the national anthem, and then out come the fireworks."

But there is one slightly British twist to the Dodds' holiday: "We don't really do the tailgating thing. We bring what we would call 'an English tea.' There's watermelon, yogurts, cheese sandwiches. Kind of a mishmash of both cultures."

grilling, fish, Liberia, American experience

Bringing home country traditions to the American experience.

Photo by Clint Bustrillos on Unsplash

3. Martin Matthews says he never misses a Fourth of July parade and for a powerful reason.

Matthews was 8 years old when he first came to America to escape a civil war in his home country of Liberia. One of his first memories? A huge Fourth of July parade in New Jersey.

"I had never seen anything like that. The flags, the drums, everything. I remember watching in awe."

Martin with his wife.

He returned to Africa later on but came back to live in America again when fighting broke out in his home country. And when he returned, that big parade stuck in his memory.

"I always loved that about America. It was a place I could be safe. A place I could enjoy freedom," he said. "To celebrate the independence of the United States holds a deep place in my heart."

These days, Martin is big on having barbecues with friends to celebrate Independence Day. There are a lot of burgers and hot dogs, but he'll sometimes mix in traditional African dishes, too, like African-style kabobs, to introduce his friends to his heritage.

"It's a big thing in Africa for people to put fish on the grill, like the whole fish," he added. "You put the whole thing on there. It was the first time some of my American friends had ever tried fish on the grill that wasn't salmon."

But his favorite thing about the holiday is still the parades. "We get there early and wave our American flags. Every year I always wear some kind of American shirt. We sit there and watch everything. It's my way of saying thanks to my adopted country."

cricket, India, celebrating holiday, University of Michigan

Changing the rules to make it work.

Photo by Alfred Kenneally on Unsplash

4. Jay Pockyarath mixes cricket with an American-style barbecue on Independence Day.

"Ever since I was in eighth grade, all I wanted to do was come to the United States," he told Upworthy. After finishing college in India, he finally got the chance when studying nuclear medicine at the University of Michigan. From there, he married an American woman and started a family.

"The thing that works [in America] is that it's a meritocracy," Pockyarath said. "July Fourth is a celebration of that, in my mind. Of independence. Of the freedom to succeed."

Jay, who was born in India, proudly flies an American flag outside his home for July Fourth.

Pockyarath has lived in the United States for over 40 years, so it's no surprise that his holiday celebration looks pretty familiar: steak, hamburgers, and hot dogs on the grill. To him, what's really important is spending time with family.

"Usually we make up games," he laughed. "We play cricket — not the way it's supposed to be played, but with a tennis ball. We make up our own rules."

American flag, Fourth of July, friends and family, decorating

Embracing the traditions and bringing your own flare to it.

Photo by Gene Gallin on Unsplash

5. Natalia Paruz is originally from Israel, and she decorates everything in red, white, and blue.

Natalia is now a musician in New York City.

"First I came here with my parents [about 20 years ago] for a year. At the end of the year, they went back to Israel, and I wanted to stay here," she told Upworthy.

Now she works as a musician in New York City. And she absolutely, positively loves the Fourth of July.

"It's a really fun day. It's a day where you can put politics aside. It's a day for celebrating the joy of this country."

Natalia and her husband host friends every year for a big meal. "I love decorating the house for the holiday with the flags. There's always a big flag hanging from the flagpole. In the back, that's where I really go all out. Every tree gets some kind of decoration!"

"We make hot dogs, hamburgers — how can you not?" she said. "We also make tahini, which is a traditional Israeli food. It's made of sesame seeds and it becomes a paste and you spread it on pita bread. Our friends here love it."

Natalia says an overabundance of food "as if you're going to entertain a bunch of soldiers" is a nod to her Israeli roots.

This year, she's going out with friends to watch fireworks. "I wear a T-shirt that has an American flag on it and a bracelet with the colors of the flag. If you're celebrating, you might as well go to the maximum."

It turns out, celebrating America means different things to different people. And that's kind of the point.

In my mind, the only thing better than a Fourth of July party filled with burgers, steaks, beer, and fireworks is a Fourth of July party filled with all of those things plus Mexican food and African music and "English tea" and tahini and mariachi bands and more.

So whether we choose to embrace the "American way" of celebrating Independence Day (red meat and fireworks) or to use it as a chance to celebrate the unique melting pot of culture that is our country today or something in between, I think we can all agree that the America we have now is already pretty great.

This article originally appeared on 07.01.16