New Mexico, for a flag that flag-lovers love
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.