Iowa
UseCivil and state flag Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flagSmall vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flagReverse side is mirror image of obverse side
Proportion2:3
AdoptedMarch 29, 1921; 102 years ago
DesignA vertical tricolor of blue, white, and red. The center stripe is twice the width of the other two and contains an eagle holding a ribbon above the word Iowa in red.
Designed byDixie Cornell Gebhardt

The flag of the state of Iowa is a vertical tricolor flag designed by Dixie Cornell Gebhardt in 1917. Iowa, United States legislators officially adopted the flag in 1921.

History

A flag that was falsely depicted as the Iowan state flag on a cigarette silk issued by various brands of the Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company (including Fatima Cigarettes) circa 1905–1917 as part of a collection of silks displaying the flags of the U.S. states and territories, despite Iowa not actually having a flag of its own at the time.[1]

The state of Iowa did not have a banner for the first 75 years of its conception, largely because of calls for national unity during and after the American Civil War, in which Iowa fought for the Union. It was not until World War I that the creation of a state banner was requested, recorded first by the Iowa Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR),[2] while Iowa National Guardsmen positioned along the Mexican border made several requests for a banner, as other states had banners to represent themselves.[3] In 1917, Iowa was one of three states that had no banner.[4]

An early rendition of Iowa's flag, pictured in the Des Moines Register on 12 May 1917.

The flag was designed by DAR member and Knoxville, Iowa, resident Dixie Cornell Gebhardt, who was prompted to create the design by Iowa guardsmen.[5] It was approved by the DAR flag committee in early May 1917 and presented to the Iowa State Council for Defense, where it was accepted on May 11, 1917.[3] The flag was sent to Iowa troops for designation but would not be officially adopted as the state flag for nearly four more years.

Iowa governor William Lloyd Harding formally accepted the flag on behalf of the state on March 19, 1918,[6] but legislative action on adoption failed in February 1919.[7] Still, the Iowa Daughters met with legislators urging them to accept the flag again in September 1920, suggesting that past failures were caused by high expenses.[8]

Despite not being adopted, the banner was used often throughout the nation to represent Iowa, notably in Continental Hall where it was among official flags of other states, though marked as unofficial. This was all the more reason to adopt the flag officially, according to the wife of congressman Horace Mann Towner.[8]

Finally, in January 1921, Iowa legislators again deliberated on the adoption of an official banner,[9] and by mid-March of that same year, the flag was accepted as law.[10]

In 2001, a survey conducted by the North American Vexillological Association placed Iowa's flag 42nd in design quality out of the 72 Canadian provincial, U.S. state and U.S. territorial flags ranked.[11]

Protocol and procedure

The banner is only to be used in official representation of the state of Iowa or in distinction between citizens of different states. The flag should always be flown below and "subservient" to the flag of the United States,[12] while being provided and raised by public officers. Schools must fly the banner when classes are in session, and public buildings may fly the banner on secular days.[13]

Design

Iowa law officially describes the state flag.

The design consists of three vertical stripes of blue, white, and red, the blue stripe being nearest the staff and the white stripe being in the center. On the central white stripe is depicted a spreading eagle bearing in its beak blue streamers on which is inscribed the state motto, 'Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain' in white letters, with the word 'Iowa' in red letters below the streamers.

— Iowa Code[14]
Iowa state seal.

Cornell Gebhardt assigned meaning to each color of the flag: blue represents loyalty, justice, and truth; white stands for purity; red symbolizes courage.[15] The Des Moines Register suggested that the design hearkens back to Iowa's history as a French territory, with both flags containing blue, white and red from left to right, though Iowa's banner has a wider white section. The Register also stated that the word "Iowa" written in red symbolizes the "Iowa soldier [writing] in letters of blood on the white page of history his unalterable determination to defend the ideals represented by the banner and its wonderful motto."[16]

It is one of ten U.S. state flags to feature an eagle, alongside those of Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wyoming. The eagle carrying streamers in its beak also features on the Iowa state seal.[17]

See also

Sources

  1. ^ "Dixie C. Gebhardt – Iowa's Own Betsy Ross". Our Iowa Heritage. Retrieved December 31, 2023.
  2. ^ "Daughters Would Preserve the Flag". The Des Moines Tribune. March 21, 1917. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  3. ^ a b "State Flag for Iowa is Chosen". The Des Moines Tribune. May 11, 1917. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  4. ^ "At Last Iowa Has a State Flag, Thanks to the D.A.R." The Des Moines Register. May 12, 1917. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  5. ^ "She Designed Iowa's State Flag Adopted by War Council Today". The Des Moines Tribune. May 11, 1917. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  6. ^ "To Present State Flag". The Des Moines Register. March 19, 1918. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  7. ^ "Refuse to Abandon Fight for Iowa Flag". The Des Moines Tribune. February 20, 1919. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  8. ^ a b "Clubwomen Ask for State Flag". The Des Moines Register. September 23, 1920. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  9. ^ "Request Official Iowa State Flag". The Des Moines Register. January 22, 1921. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  10. ^ "See Iowa's New Flag". The Des Moines Register. April 16, 1921. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  11. ^ "2001 State/Provincial Flag Survey - NAVA.org" (PDF). nava.org.
  12. ^ "2020 Iowa Code :: Title I - STATE SOVEREIGNTY AND MANAGEMENT :: Chapter 1B - STATE FLAG :: Section 1B.1 - Specifications of state flag". Justia Law. Retrieved September 21, 2021.
  13. ^ "2020 Iowa Code :: Title I - STATE SOVEREIGNTY AND MANAGEMENT :: Chapter 1B - STATE FLAG :: Section 1B.3 - Flags on public buildings". Justia Law. Retrieved September 21, 2021.
  14. ^ "2020 Iowa Code :: Title I - STATE SOVEREIGNTY AND MANAGEMENT :: Chapter 1B - STATE FLAG :: Section 1B.1 - Specifications of state flag". Justia Law. Retrieved September 21, 2021.
  15. ^ "Iowa State Flag". State Symbols USA. May 12, 2014. Archived from the original on October 18, 2021. Retrieved September 21, 2021.
  16. ^ "State Flag Sent to Iowa Fighters". The Des Moines Register. October 31, 1917. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  17. ^ "Iowa State Flag". statesymbolsusa.org. May 12, 2014. Retrieved January 23, 2023.