Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Tennessee Flag: Three Stars Endlessly Bound Together

Capt. LeRoy Reeves (Photo:www.johnsondepot.com)

It begins like this ...

The Tennessee state flag was designed by LeRoy Reeves. Reeves, born in 1876, was first a teacher and then a lawyer. In 1903, he organized a company of the Tennessee National Guard, Company F, Third Infantry.

The Third Infantry of the Tennessee National Guard should not be confused with the Third Regiment of the Tennessee Infantry, a Union infantry formed in 1861 and retired in 1865 after suffering tremendous losses. It turns out that during the Civil War, each of the 11 Confederate states, of which Tennessee was one, also produced Unionist regiments – such as the Tennessee Third Regiment (www.wikipedia.org and www.civilwararchive.com).

Tennessee farmland (Painting: Christopher Greco)
Tennessee has three distinct geographical areas: the East, the West and the middle. Eastern Tennessee includes the Smoky Mountains. Western Tennessee is flat and agricultural. The middle has rolling hills and horse farms. Reeves wanted his flag to recognize the uniqueness of these three regions as well as therir statehood unity. The three stars represent the three regions. The circle that encloses them represents their unity.

The Tennessee state flag

 Reeves described the flag like this:
"The three stars are of pure white, representing the three grand divisions of the state. They are bound together by the endless circle of the blue field the symbol being three bound together in one-an indissoluble trinity The large field is crimson. The final blue bar relieves the sameness of the crimson field and prevents the flag from showing too much creation when hanging limp. The white edgings contrast more strongly the other colors." (www.tnmilitary.org)

The flag was officially adopted by the state legislature in 1905.

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