Flag Tips, Trivia and History: Five of the Most Interesting State Flags

Posted by Accent Banner on Aug 15, 2017 7:56:00 AM

While the American flag is one of the most well-known symbols in the world, the individual state flags are much less famous despite offering quirky anecdotes to a state’s unique history. With the influences of European powers combined with features that are unmistakably American, each of the 50 flags has a story to tell and symbolizes a state’s place in the union. Here’s a look at five states with the most intriguing backstories for their official state flags.

Arizona State Flag:

When the Arizona National Guard was set to compete in the National Rifle Matches in 1910, the team probably didn’t know that the design they chose for the event would turn into the emblem of the state for the next century. Even though Governor Thomas Campbell actually refused to sign the bill to make it the state flag in 1917, the state legislature adopted it anyway and the red, blue, yellow and copper design continues to be the official state flag of Arizona. True to the Spanish influence of the region, the main color scheme is actually borrowed from Spain’s flag, although the thirteen rays of red and yellow represent the thirteen original American colonies.

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Iowa State Flag:

The prize for the most French-influenced flag in the U.S. goes to Iowa, which only seems an unlikely connection on the surface. Utilizing the vertical blue, white and red French Tricolor as a starting point, Iowa’s flag is a throwback to the days before the Louisiana Purchase, although the bald eagle at the heart of the flag is also distinctly Americana. Originally designed by a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution during WWI, the flag faced some fierce opposition from a Civil War veterans’ organization but was finally officially taken on in 1921.

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Maryland State Flag:

The Maryland flag looks a bit like the result of Lewis Carroll designing a chess board, although the unique design is also filled with symbolism that points to the complex history of Maryland. Meant as a tribute to George Calvert, better known as Lord Baltimore, the flag combines colored arms of red and white with the black and gold coat of arms that was a symbol of Calvert, who helped to settle the colony back in the early 1600s. Centuries later, Marylanders who fought for the Union Army would identify with the black and gold coat of arms while Confederate fighters picked up the red and white symbol called a Crossland banner. After the Civil War ended, the collaboration of the two distinctly different banners onto the official state flag of Maryland was designed to help bridge any ideological divide that lingered.

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Virginia State Flag:

Virginia went all the way back to Ancient Rome for the inspiration for the state flag, which showcases a fallen king and the Latin phrase that means “Thus always for tyrants.” Although the phrase was infamously revived by John Wilkes Booth during the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the words were first uttered by the Shakespearean version of Marcus Brutus during the Julius Caesar assassination. Originally designed in 1776 shortly after the American colonies split from King George II, the flag portrays a fictitious Amazon woman pinning down a beaten king, pointing to the self-rule that was central to the Declaration of Independence. Even though the symbol was popular long before the Civil War, it wasn’t made the unofficial state flag until 1861 and was tinkered with over the decades until it was officially adopted in 1950.

 

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Topics: flag history, flag trivia, state flags

U.S. Flag Facts They Never Taught You in School

Posted by Derrek Coss on Jul 20, 2017 8:09:00 AM

Did you know that the current 50 star U.S. Flagdesign of the United States flag has lasted longer than any other design in U.S. history? Essentially this is because we have not added a new state to our great country since the addition of Hawaii on August 21, 1959. Luckily, Robert Heft the designer of the 50 star U.S. flag has already designed a 51 star flag so if we ever choose to add another state we’ll be good to go! Learn more flag facts below!

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(Short on Time? Click Here to Download our FREE Guide to Maintaining Your U.S. Flag!) 

 

Alt colors for original U.S. flag design

In colonial America there were only 8 different dye colors that were easily produced. Light blue, indigo blue, gold, red, white, yellow, green and black. A few of these colors we’re ruled out right away as yellow was the color of quarantine and black has long been symbolic of death in western culture. That leaves just green, gold, and light blue as the colors not selected by Francis Hopkinson for use in his flag design.

 

flag facts

Get this! Using the flag as decorative bunting has played a major roll in U.S. history at least once. President Lincoln visited Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865.  He was provided a box seat decorated with bunched flags, a common practice at the time. Later that night John Wilkes Booth crept up behind Lincoln and shot him. Booth then jumped onto the railing of Lincoln’s box seat and proclaimed “Sic semper tyrannis” (“Thus always to tyrants”). He then planned to jump down to the stage to make his escape. However, as Booth went to make his move his spur caught on the decorative flag bunched along the railing causing him to loose his balance, land awkwardly and injure his leg. Booth pushed thru the pain and escaped only to be captured nearby, a few days later.


For years after this an urban legend was spread that the flag that reached up and grabbed Booth was “Old Glory” herself. However, it turns out that the actual “hero flag” was the flag of the Treasury department Regimental Unit.

*Referenced The Care and Display of the American Flag by the editors of Sharpman.com 2004 for entire blog post.

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Topics: american history, American flag, flag facts, U.S. flag, flag history

A Brief History of the American Flag

Posted by Accent Banner on May 31, 2017 4:09:20 PM

 As Independence Day approaches, you are likely to see more and more American flags flying. While most people realize that the flag is a symbol of our nation, there are many other things about the flag that people may not know. To learn more about the American flag, consider this brief history of the American flag.

 

Brief History of the American Flag

Even before the United States was formed, the colonists used flags to represent this potential nation. A “Liberty Tree” flag, with a green pine tree and the saying, “An Appeal to Heaven,” was flown as early as 1775. Later, a flag known as the Grand Union flag was used. This flag was flown above George Washington's base on Prospect Hill on January 1, 1776.  

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The Grand Union Flag of 1776

The Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act on June 14, 1777. Along with that came the basic design of the American flag, which called for “thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” Each of the three colors of the flag was chosen for a reason. Blue represents justice, vigilance, and perseverance. Red is for valor. White is for purity. 

 

Adding Stars for Each State

While the flag representing the United States today still has thirteen stripes, there are now fifty stars, each representing one of the states. Yet, the flag did not simply jump from thirteen stars and stripes to the flag we know today. Several changes were made to the flag between 1777 and now. One notable change was on January 13, 1794, when the flag was changed to fifteen stripes and fifteen stars to represent Vermont and Kentucky, who had been acquired since the original flag was designed.

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George Washington With Betsy Ross and New Flag

On April 4, 1818, it was decided that while the flag would continue to gain stars for each state that joined the union, the flag would stay at thirteen stripes. As states were accepted into the union, their star would be added to the flag on the following 4th of July.

While stars continued to be added to the flag fairly steadily over the next roughly hundred years, it was not until June 24, 1912, that the next major change came as President William Howard Taft set forth specific proportions for the flag. The stars were placed in horizontal rows and one point of each star pointing upward.   

On August 21, 1959, with Hawaii added to the union, President Dwight D. Eisenhower set forth our current flag with fifty stars. There are nine rows of stars, with five rows of six stars each and four rows with five stars each.

 

Moments in Flag History

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Of course, the American flag has a history beyond just the changes to the actual stars and stripes. Here are some of the big places the American flag has held in history:

  • Captain Robert Gray carried the American flag on his voyage around the world in 1787 on his ship The Columbia. The Columbia River, between what would become Washington and Oregon, was named after Captain Gray's ship. 
  • Even when the Southern states seceded from the union during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln would not allow their stars to be removed from the flag.
  • Robert Peary placed an American flag sewn by his wife at the North Pole in 1909.
  • In 1963, Barry Bishop placed the American flag on top of Mount Everest.
  • Neil Armstrong placed an American flag on the moon on July 20, 1969.
  • On September 11, 2001, just hours after the attacks on the World Trade Center, three New York City firefighters were photographed raising the American flag at Ground Zero. The photograph, “Raising the Flag at Ground Zero,” became a symbol of hope and triumph over disaster.

Flags can symbolize great things. If you are interested in beginning a history of your own flag, contact us.

 

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Topics: American flag, flag history, flags and banners, flag

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