Ever see a state flag that really catches your eye and makes you wonder what the story behind it might be? At Carrot-Top, we thought it’d be fun to do a completely subjective, unscientific roundup of unusual and memorable U.S. state flags. Here are our results:
#10 Texas: One of the most recognizable state flags, Texas’ Lone Star flag features a wide blue vertical stripe and five-pointed star at the header end, with a single white and single red horizontal stripe. Its origins date back to the short-lived Republic of Texas; from 1879 to 1933, the Lone Star was the state’s de facto flag, as there was no official state flag. As with the United States flag, the blue stands for loyalty, white for purity and red for bravery, with the Lone Star representing the state’s unity and independence from Mexico. The single red and single white stripe date back to the tiny Republic of Fredonia, which was in East Texas near Nagcodoches.
#9 North Carolina: Like the Lone Star Flag, North Carolina’s flag features a blue vertical field with wide horizontal white and blue stripes. Rather than the Texas flag’s big, familiar five-pointed star, however, it includes “N” and C” to the right and left of a small star. Above that is a banner wth the date “May 20 1775,” and below is a banner with “April 12 1776”. Those dates represent the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and the Halifax Resolve, important documents that mark the state’s role in the American independence movement.
#8 Oklahoma: One of the most recent official state flags, Oklahoma’s flag wasn’t formally adopted until 2006 (the current Louisiana flag was adopted in 2010). It features an Osage Nation buffalo-skin shield and seven eagle feathers against a sky-blue field, with the state’s name in block letters underneath. The state wasn’t part of the union until 1907, and its predecessor was a simple red flag with a large white star in the center and “46” inside the star (denoting its entry into the union as the 46th state). Prior versions were similar, but with differing shades of blue and other incorrect or inconsistent elements.
#7 Arizona: Bold and unmistakable, the Arizona state flag features 13 alternating red-and-yellow rays in the upper half, with blue at the bottom half and a copper-colored star in the center. The blue represents the Colorado River, the star stands for the state’s copper industry and the 13 rays represent the original 13 colonies. Red and yellow reflect the colors of the flag of Spain and the years when Arizona was part of Mexican territory. The flag was formally adopted in 1917, after the state’s National Guard rifle team was the only unit without an emblem of any kind at a rifle competition in Ohio.
#6 New Mexico: One of only four state flags to not feature the color blue, this familiar flag features an ancient Zia Sun symbol in red, centered in a field of yellow. The flag was not formally adopted until 1920, when the Daughters of the American Revolution sponsored a contest for a contemporary flag design. The Zia Sun symbol’s four arms represent the four directions, four times of day, four stages of life and four seasons, with the circle in the center binding the four elements together.
#5 South Carolina: The South Carolina flag is a simple design of a palmetto tree and crescent moon against a dark blue background. Its origins date back to 1775, when Colonel William Moultrie commissioned a design for South Carolina troops during the Revolutionary War. The palmetto was added in 1861 and refers to Moultrie’s defense of Sullivan’s Island, a fortress that was built up using palmetto tree trunks.
#4 Alaska: The simple, elegant Alaska state flag features the stars of the Big Dipper constellation and Polaris against a dark blue background. Adopted in 1927, it was designed by Benny Benson, a 13-year-old boy who responded in a territorial contest for a flag design. The blue field represents the sky and the forget-me-not, a native Alaskan flower. The Dipper symbolizes the Ursa Major constellation and great strength, while Polaris stood for Alaska’s hopes of future statehood.
#3 Maryland: Maryland’s flag, roughly speaking, has two quarters with an angled black-and-gold checkerboard design, and two quarters with a heraldic cross design. The checkered sections come from the chevron design of the Calvert family, English royalty who founded the colony of Maryland. The red-and-white heraldic crosses are the arms of the Crossland family, that of Calvert’s (Lord Baltimore’s) paternal grandmother.
#2 Ohio: The distinctive Ohio state flag has a burgee shape, the only U.S. state flag that is not rectangular. It features three red and two white horizontal stripes, standing for the state’s roads and waterways. At the header end, a blue triangular field with 17 five-pointed stars and a red disc with a white border. The O design suggests the “O” in “Ohio”, but also refers to the state’s nickname, “The Buckeye State”. The stars are arranged with 13 stars above and below the O, while the four stars at the peak of the triangle refer to Ohio’s status as the 17th state in the Union. It was not adopted until 1902; prior to that year, Ohio had no official state flag.
#1 Hawaii: Similar to Old Glory, except with only eight stripes (and two of them blue) with the Union Jack in the field where the stars should be. The eight stripes represent the major islands of the Hawaiian archipelago, while it’s believed that the Union Jack design was King Kamehameha’s tribute to King George III.
We hope you found this informal roundup of state flag information interesting – at Carrot-Top, we’re proud of our expertise in the field of vexillology, and we can offer all kinds of information on flag etiquette and other details from the flag world. Shop our selection of state flags (in all sizes and fabrics), and subscribe to our newsletter for more information!