Friday, November 1, 2013

Coolest State Flags

I declare the most attractive and effective flags to be the colorful and simple. When a banner is flown high up on a pole, tiny figures, words, and scenery drawn seemingly with a number 2 pencil are completely lost to our sight. At worst they look like aberrations in the fabric. In my opinion the flags pictured here make the boldest proclamations about their states. They are simple, striking, and convey a symbolic message and enthusiasm for their state:

Arizona--Don't you get a yearn for Arizona when you see their flag?  The warm sunny colors convey the wide open desert, the blue reminds us of the mountains and cooler areas. The star mimics a setting sun and the whole thing emanates a wild west feel.

Alaska--"The simple flag of the last frontier."   The Alaska flag goes together with the state song. "Eight stars of gold on a field of blue . . . The blue of the sea, the evening sky, the bear, the dipper, and shining bright: the great north star with it's steady light, o'er land and sea, a beacon bright . . . " which by the way, beats Oregon's languid state song by a mile. The long nights way up north give the stars greater prominence than we enjoy in the lower 48. And again, less is more.

Alaska State Song

California--My all-time favorite flag!  The grizzly says it all.  California was a wild place back in the day. The last grizzly in Southern Cal was killed in 1879 just a few miles from where I grew up (I have no memory of that event . . .). The flag was raised at Sonoma in 1846, declaring California separate from Mexico as The Bear Flag Republic. A two-year war occurred to make that a reality and voila, California became the 35th US state.

Montana--This is an exception to the rule that flags should not sport intricate pictures that are impossible to see from a distance. The bright colors and relative simplicity of the tableau makes it easy on the eyes. Love the Bitterroots and the Great Falls of the Missouri in the sketch.

New Mexico--Another flag from a sunny state that found a unique way to represent the sun, using a native American symbol. The colors represent the original Spanish explorers and settlement. New Mexico's heritage is displayed using only two colors and one symbol. Amazing.

Oklahoma--The shield of the Osage warrior bedecked with a peace pipe, an olive branch, and eagle feathers pays homage to Oklahoma's heavy native American beginnings. Set on a stunning blue background, there is no other flag like it.

Texas--Nothing says "the Lone Star State" like . . . a lone star on their flag. Dating from the days of independent Texas, the flag was Texas's symbol on becoming a state in 1845. The lone star represents solidarity in standing up against Mexico.

Washington--Old white guys glorified on a state flag don't usually cut it, but this vibrant flag honoring ol' George is pretty as a picture. The deep emerald green signifies Washington's predominant color, and, balanced out by the yellow of eastern Washington wheat fields, and azure blue reminding of us sea and sound, is stunning.

And now, the worst: There is not a duller state flag anywhere, than that from my home state. Even if you magnify the seal, it's not easy to see what is portrayed (if I squint a Conestoga wagon pops up and maybe a clipper ship . . .).  And 20 feet up on a flag pole, forget it. The beaver on the backside is a nice touch, but flown up the pole, you would swear someone spilled a jar of mustard on the flag.  About five years ago The Oregonian newspaper solicited designs for a new state flag, but the legislature did not get on board, and now that issue is dead in the water. Yeah, about as dead as our dull state flag.


  1. You always have such interesting topics and often make me chuckle. I enjoyed this!

    1. Thanks Suzanne . . . sometimes I grasp at straws for subjects!

    2. I love the variety. I know where Bridget gets her gift of writing.

  2. Great post. Now you should do a similar post on car license plates.

  3. Pretty flags! Except for Oregon's.