Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Eisenhower Presidential flags

The 50-star presidential flag
Every president also has a presidential flag. This includes the Seal of the office made into a flag. Traditionally, the Seal includes a ring of stars, one star for every state.

President Eisenhower's tenure in the White House was unique in terms of presidential flags. While Eisenhower was in office, the flag grew from 48 stars (Arizona) to 49 and 50, representing Alaska and Hawaii, respectively. 

Eisenhower is the only president to serve under three distinct presidential flags. This press release is about an exhibit at the Museum of Flags which will be displaying all three of the flags that the president used.


Historic Flags of the Eisenhower Oval Office on Display
August 9, 2012
from the House of Flags Museum

Columbus, NC – For the first time in history all six original flags from the White House during President Eisenhower’s administration will be together in a single exhibit from October 10 to 13 in Columbus, North Carolina. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States (1953 to 1961), was the only President in our Nation’s history to serve under three different President’s flags. The exhibit includes 48-star, 49-star, and 50-star President’s flags and the corresponding U.S. colors. The 50-star U.S. flag on display is the actual flag unveiled in the White House Cabinet Room when Hawaii became our 50th state.

The flags are on loan from a private collection and from the Eisenhower Museum and Library in Abilene, Kansas. Historic 1940s and 1950s photographs of the hand embroidery flag making process from the U.S. Army Quartermaster Museum at Fort Lee, Virginia will also be on display along with other press photos of Alaska and Hawaii statehood events.

One of a kind – The 49-star President’s Oval Office flag, hand made at the US Army Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot in 1958, will be on public display for the first time since leaving the White House in 1960. This priceless hand embroidered silk President’s flag featuring 49 stars may be the only one of its kind ever made. The 49-star flag was official for only one year – July 4th 1959 to July 4th 1960.

Rare two-sided needle-painting hand embroidery techniques are used to create these beautiful blue silk flags featuring a life-like eagle grasping olive branches and arrows with rays and clouds above; a red, white, and blue shield; plus a scrolled motto E Pluribus Unum surrounded by a circle of stars corresponding to the number of States. The perfectly mirrored designs are identical on both sides of the flag – the back side being seen only after the flag is complete. All three President’s flags are truly unique hand embroidered works of art with hand tied gold and silver precious metal fringe.

A limited engagement – This historic four-day exhibit is planned for October 10th through October 13th 2012 at the House of Flags Museum in Columbus, North Carolina. Admission is free and donations are always appreciated. The museum is fully handicap accessible.
Alaska's  49-star flag celebrated with AL governor, Bob Bartlet (center) and Pres. Eisenhower (back row, far right)

Let it fly!

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Missouri State Flag: The West Starts Here

The Missouri state flag contains a field of three stripes in the red, white and blue of the national flag. It also holds two grizzly bears, 24 stars, a helmet and a crescent moon pointing up, towards the heavens.
The Missouri state flag

In short, it holds the symbolic history of a new state born out of conflict from new territory. Here is the history of the Missouri state flag. 
 Morals — all correct moral laws — derive from the instinct to survive. Moral behavior is 
survival behavior above the individual level.   
~ Sci-fi author and Missouri native, Robert Heinlein

1860: the first Pony Express left St. Joseph, MO for Sacramento
In 1821, the year of its statehood, Missouri was at the crossroads of a geographic and political revolution.

Part of the wild west territory culled from Spanish and French colonial rule, this was where the debate over slavery was held in a constant and contentious balance:

Geographically, Missouri was at the very juncture where a growing nation had to decide if its burgeoning borders would be a land of the free or the enslaved.  

Politically, the math of legislative and economic power had carefully balanced the number of free states against the number of slave states. This could easily be upended if or when Missouri was accepted as a state.

In 1820, the wheel of fortune turned again when Maine applied for statehood (as a free state) and the Missouri Compromise was reached (making Missouri slave territory).

1820 map showing the 36/30 Parallel and the free/ slave states (Map: PBS)
The Compromise was a patchwork attempt to appease both sides as it defined the territory on one side of the 36° 30' parallel (what would become Kansas) to be free and territory on the other side (Missouri) to be slave. The fact that Missouri was a borderland – of politics as well as geography – was evident in the many and often dramatic legislative proposals that were put forth prior to and after the Missouri Compromise.

In 1821, when Missouri again applied for statehood (for the 8th time), it was granted.
Missouri painter Thomas Hart Benton's Boy and Dog and Farm

Some thirty years later, the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 (the concept of popular sovereignty) overrode the Missouri Compromise. It allowed for the settlers in Kansas and Nebraska to decide (to vote) for themselves if they would or would not allow slavery within their territory. This seems simple enough but it was a political tinderbox that fired such far-reaching discussion as the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates in Illinois.
In short: either you were for a version of self-rule (which made room for slavery) or you found the expansion of slavery impossible to condone (which gave the federal government the right to override laws allowing slavery in the new territories).

Mr. Dred Scott (Missouri Historical Society)
The Dred Scott Decision (1857) underscored the chaos and the tragedy of these times. In their decision, the Supreme Court ruled that:

1. the Missouri Compromise (which prohibited slavery in some of the new territories) was unconstitutional. 
2. African Americans – slave or free – were not citizens (nor eligible for citizenship).
3. because African Americans were not citizens, they (including children born on free land) had no ability to seek any protection under the law (to sue). 
4. Slaves were to be treated as physical property under the law. Specifically, a law (like the Missouri Compromise) could not free a slave from his/ her owner, even if the "slave" was living in "free" territory.

In practical terms, this meant that if you were free in one territory, you might not be free in another territory. Likewise, if you were a slave in one territory but had been living in a "free" territory and had raised children in that territory, your former master could claim you and your children – and you could do nothing about it because you did not have any rights as a citizen.

As the West was settled in the boom decades between 1820 and 1860, a harvest of political unrest was being planted that eventually would grow into the Civil War.

The Missouri state flag with its grizzly bears and crescent moon.
A new flag ...

After the Civil War and at the turn of the 20th century, the country was taking stock. It was at this time that the Daughters of the American Revolution began to sponsor state flag contests. The Missouri state flag is the result of the 1908 flag contest.

The state flag of Missouri was designed by Mrs. Marie Elizabeth Oliver, the chairperson of the local DAR search committee and the wife of Senator Robert Burett Oliver

A second Missouri state flag, one designed by Dr. G. H. Holcomb, had been under consideration but Oliver's design ultimately was chosen. In 1913, the Oliver flag became the official Missouri state flag.

The Missouri state flag consists of three, wide, horizontal, red, white, and blue stripes – the colors of the national flag. In the center is the Missouri state seal. This juxtaposition underscores the union between the state and the nation. Placing the seal at the center of the Missouri state flag also emphasizes Missouri's place in the middle of the nation.

Within the Missouri state seal there are 24 stars as Missouri is the 24th state. The largest star is supposed to represent the fact that Missouri became a state after rising above significant challenges. The grizzly bears and helmet are symbols representing the strength and fortitude of Missouri.

The crescent moon on the Missouri state flag can be read two ways: Its two points can indicate that Missouri is the second state to "grow" out of the new territory (from the Latin, cresare, to grow). In traditional heraldry, however, a crescent moon facing up, as this one does, generally indicates that this is a branch of a larger family. This would indicate Missouri as growing out of the new territories as well as being a part of the United States.    

There are two mottoes on the Missouri state flag. One is in English: United We Stand. Divided We Fall. Again, this emphasizes the importance of unity. The Latin motto, Salus populi suprema lex esto translates to "Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law."

Missouri native, President Truman, with the state animal, the mule. Why the mule? Aside from its role in building the West, the mule is strong, hardy, even-tempered, and nobody's fool!
Let it fly!

To find find out how to fly the flag and other flag etiquette, see USFlagstore's  Flag Etiquette 101 and USFlagstore's How to Fly the Flag at Half-Staff.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Colorado's State Flag

The Colorado State Flag ...
The Colorado state flag was designed by Andrew Carlisle Johnson and adopted in 1911. Over the years, there have been some modifications of the flag but they have served the purpose of clarifying its size, color and dimensions. The colors are the same colors as the national flag with 3 horizontal stripes forming the field (a white stripe is in-between the top and bottom blue stripes). Near the middle is a simple but easy-to-read, crimson "C". Inside the "C" is a gold disc, probably referencing Colorado's gold rush history.

The Colorado state flag.

The Colorado Historical society has an exceptional website @ www.historycolorado.org for state history, state museums, and historic sites. It is informative as well as rich with events and programs, online exhibits as well as on location!

From Territory to State and on to Social Beacon
Colorado was brought into the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase. In 1803 and between the years 1848 and 1850, it became a territory that fell under the jurisdiction of several other territories (Colorado.gov): Indiana Territory, Louisiana Territory, Missouri Territory, Utah Territory, New Mexico Territory, Nebraska Territory and Kansas Territory.

Finally, on February 28, 1863, Colorado became its own Colorado Territory. In 1863, the first bill for Colorado's statehood was written. And vetoed. Between 1863-1873, Colorado's statehood petition was vetoed some 8 different times. 

On August 1, 1876, after strong support by President Ulysses S. Grant, Colorado became the 38th state.

Colorado's history is as rich as Colorado's gold rush. It contains a history of male and female pioneers. One of these early pioneers is Molly Brown, best known from the musical biography of her life, The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

The "unsinkable" and unstoppable Molly Brown

While the musical covers Brown's rags to riches story, her attempts to enter Denver society, and her surviving the sinking of the Titanic, it does not do justice to how serious she was about politics and social reform. In 1901, Brown ran for the state Senate (before women could even vote). She also was a vocal advocate for suffrage. (Colorado was the second state to pass suffrage. Wyoming was the first.)

Though Molly Brown and Mother Jones occupy two very different ends of the socio-political spectrum, both came together over Colorado mining/ labor law. It was the Ludlow Massacre, to be precise, which found the wealthy social progressive, Molly Brown, and the politically active firebrand, Mother Jones, defending miners' rights ... and undoubtedly annoying mine owner John D. Rockefeller with their criticism of him in the process.

Mother Jones actually was present at the fiasco that became the Ludlow Massacre; Brown subsequently raised relief for surviving victims of the massacre and advocated for reforms in mining labor law. And yes, that Mother Jones is the same Mother Jones for whom the magazine is named!

Let it fly!