And, as always highlights from our last meeting, a roundup of flag news and notes, sightings of the Portland city flag, and the What’s That Flag quiz. (This issue’s quizmaster: Tony Burton of the Flag Society of Australia.)
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SAINT-ALPHONSE-RODRIGUEZ, QUEBEC — In a surprise announcement today, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto proclaimed their mutual withdrawal from NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the merger of their two countries into the Federation of Camexida. “It just got too difficult dealing with the Trump administration, so we’ve decided to leave NAFTA and join forces,” explained Trudeau. “That Trump, he’s just one bad hombre. Loco… Loquísimo!” added Peña Nieto, in an uncharacteristic display of informality.
The two leaders further revealed that to appease the Quebecois, the capital of the new federation would be developed in the small town of Saint-Alphonse-Rodriguez in Quebec (one of the few municipalities in Canada with a Spanish place name) and that Mexico would half-heartedly adopt French as a second official language (due to some lingering resentments around the events of 1861). A new two-sided flag was revealed to represent the new country, with the Mexican eagle side serving as the front of the flag in even-numbered years, the Canadian maple leaf in odd-numbered years.
After their short announcement, the two leaders declined to answer any questions from the stunned audience, and left to have a meal of moose meat tacos and huitlacoche poutine.
The municipal government of Scottsdale, Arizona — “the West’s most Western town” according to its uninspired current flag — is narrowing in on a redesign and inviting public input. Why? “Scottsdale hopes a new flag will become an immediately recognizable symbol of the proud and accomplished desert community known around the world for its blend of western heritage, natural beauty and modern art and culture.”
Here are the contending proposals. (Interestingly, the web survey shows each proposals at two sizes, to allow the design to be read both close-up and at a more typical viewing distance.)
As with many of these redesign efforts, it is worth asking whether deciding between these specific options through a public poll will lead to a better result (a more widely adopted flag) than would hiring a design professional to produce a final design after taking these amateur ideas into thoughtful consideration.
(Also, Oregonians will beg to differ: Port Orford, Oregon and obviously not Scottsdale is the literally most western incorporated settlement in the continental US.)
Queen Elizabeth II reigns as monarch of 16 sovereign and independent countries. Although they share the same person as queen, each country’s throne is legally distinct: she is simultaneously and separately Queen of the United Kingdom, Queen of Australia, Queen of Papua New Guinea, etc.
Some of these countries have adopted royal standards for the monarch’s personal use, usually a banner of the national coat of arms, defaced with Elizabeth’s personal badge of a crowned “E” in a wreath of roses.
The royal standard of New Zealand, shown below, is a typical example.
Since the queen lives in the United Kingdom, in her other 15 realms she is represented by a governor-general, who fulfills the day-to-day functions of the head of state.
Most of these viceroys (governors-general) fly nearly-identical flags: blue, with the lion-and-crown crest from the British royal arms above a scroll bearing the country’s name.
The flag of the governor-general of Belize is shown above.
From a heraldic and constitutional perspective, the symbolism of all this is not very satisfying. The crowned-“E” badge serves as an armorial mark of difference, indicating that someone other than the actual bearer of the coat of arms is represented. But as monarch, the queen is the personal embodiment of the state; the nation’s arms are her arms, and there is no reason for a person to bear his or her own arms differenced.
In accordance with heraldic custom, I suggest that in each realm she should use a banner of the national arms without defacement or difference—as illustrated by proposed standards for the Queen of Grenada, the Queen of Tuvalu, and the Queen of Canada below.
What of the governors-general? They do not represent the United Kingdom or the British government, so there seems little justification for their flags bearing the crest of the British monarch. Rather, since each governor-general is the personal representative of his or her own country’s queen, I propose that he or she should fly a differenced version of that country’s royal standard.
A bordure ermine for difference might be especially suitable; this has often been employed in heraldry as a mark of difference, and is used today in the United Kingdom by members of the royal family without banners of their own. Proposed flags for the governors-general of New Zealand and Barbados are pictured here.
For the governor-general of Jamaica, ermine will not do, since the field of the Jamaican royal standard is already white. In this case, I suggest a bordure compony of the national colors of green, gold and black.
Something similar could be done in the Bahamas, St. Vincent and the Grenadines (see below), and St. Kitts and Nevis, where the same problem arises.
Australia (below) and Tuvalu present another problem—how should the vice-regal flag be differenced when the royal arms already have a bordure?
The overall result, in my view, is a series of flags which clearly denote each realm’s independence and distinct national identity, combining existing national symbolism and centuries-old heraldic principles to accurately reflect today’s constitutional realities.
About two years ago I wrote a letter to the Chicago Fire Department requesting an old Chicago flag that had flown over a fire station. I just received the flag.
It flew over Engine 83 which was 2.6 miles from where I used to live in Chicago.
I wanted to find a new home for the flag so I went to Troutdale Fire Station 75 and asked if they knew any firefighters with a Chicago connection. They referred me to Joe Griffin of Gresham Fire Station 76.
I connected with Joe, who has family in Chicago and goes to back there about once a year. I gave him the flag.
As with other flags the stars and stripes represent different things. On the Chicago flag each point of the stars has a different meaning. For example, the second red star represents the Chicago Fire of 8–10 October 1871. The points of the second star signify religion, education, esthetics, justice, beneficence, and civic pride.
Chicago adopted the original version of the flag in 1917. Since then, it has added stars, and now flies extensively throughout the city. The design has been voted one of the best in the country and has inspired other city flags.
As the recent 4th-of-July-weekend Blues Festival began, Portlanders continued their tradition of protest, often using flags. At times that involved burning them.
The right-wing group Patriot Prayer planned a two-hour “Freedom March” at Tom McCall Waterfront Park with “a small amount of speeches to promote freedom and courage”. On Facebook it said “Fear will not silence Americans in these liberal strongholds. Please bring your best behavior.”
The opposition group Rose City Antifa [anti-fascist] organized an opposition rally called “Enough: Stop Patriot Prayer Now!” On Facebook it said “We will not allow our community to be overrun by fascists and those who make excuses for them.”
Most demonstrators had passionate but peaceful conversations. However, one fight started after some Antifa protesters burned flags. One man tried to hit others with a broken flag pole.
This behavior follows an incident where anti-Trump protesters burned American flags (and one Texas flag) in Pioneer Courthouse Square downtown on 20 January, Inauguration Day.
The Flag Fusions of Pedro Lasch (Scott Mainwaring)
A New Flag for Burlington, Vermont (Ted Kaye)
Travels with Flags (Michael Orelove)
Oregon Flag Registry Update
And, as always highlights from our last meeting, a roundup of flag news and notes, sightings of the Portland city flag, and the What’s That Flag quiz. Keen eyed readers may also spot a terrible flag joke, not counting the visual pun below (and, please, send us better ones!).