New Mex­ico, for a flag that flag-lovers love

The Washington Post Sunday - - OUTLOOK - By Ni­raj Chok­shi Ni­raj Chok­shi re­ports for GovBeat, The Post’s state and lo­cal pol­icy blog. If you have a can­di­date for best state, e-mail ni­raj.chok­shi@wash­

Ninety-nine years ago to­day, Amer­ica be­gan to cel­e­brate its most en­dur­ing sym­bol: the flag. It is an “em­blem of our unity, our power, our thought and pur­pose as a na­tion,” Pres­i­dent Woodrow Wil­son said a year af­ter pro­claim­ing the first Flag Day.

That much is true of all flags: They are el­e­gant, strik­ing and rec­og­niz­able sym­bols of the peo­ple over whom they fly.

But Old Glory does not stand alone. Each state has also adopted a ban­ner of its own. And alas, not all are cre­ated equal. None is as well de­signed as New Mex­ico’s, at least ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey con­ducted by the North Amer­i­can Vex­il­lo­log­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion, ded­i­cated to the study of flags. Its mem­bers fa­vored “strong, sim­ple, dis­tinc­tive flags,” the group wrote in an­nounc­ing the re­sults of its sur­vey.

New Mex­ico’s con­forms to all three prin­ci­ples. In the cen­ter of its yel­low flag sits a red cir­cle rep­re­sent­ing the sun, with four rays ex­tend­ing in each cardinal di­rec­tion. The flag, adopted 90 years ago, bor­rows that de­sign, the Zia sym­bol, from the tribe of the same name.

But while the Land of En­chant­ment scored high­est in the sur­vey, NAVA Pres­i­dent John Hartvigsen is quick to stress that beauty is in the eye of the be­holder. “Ev­ery­one has their own fa­vorite,” he says.

Other top-scor­ing flags also boasted sim­ple de­signs, mean­ing­ful sym­bol­ism and a few ba­sic colors. Texas ranked sec­ond, with its lone star flag, fol­lowed by Mary­land and Alaska.

The flags of Ne­braska, Mon­tana and Kansas, which sport busy state seals, ranked near the bot­tom.

The flag of Wash­ing­ton, D.C., based on Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton’s coat of arms, ranked eighth.

“It’s very bold and strik­ing, and peo­ple rec­og­nize it,” Hartvigsen says.


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