United Nations Flag Project

By Michael Orelove
Originally published in The Vexilloid Tabloid #30, October 2011

I have all 50 state flags, different historical American flags, some city flags, and various other flags, but very few national flags.  I give flag presentations in schools and various community organizations and wanted to have additional national flags.

Rather than purchase a full set of all the national flags I decided to write letters to all the nations and request the donation of a flag for educational purposes.  In January I sent out 192 letters to all the nations of the United Nations and waited.  In the following months I received a total of 15 flags.

The flags were all different sizes from 4 x 6 inches to 3 x 5 feet.  Some countries included information about their flag and country.  The Maldives sent one large flag and two smaller flag.  Lebanon sent one cloth flag and 10 paper flags.  Some flags were mounted on sticks and some included bases.  Three nations sent letters stating that they did not have any flag to send me.

I took all the flags I received to the Troutdale Elementary School in Troutdale, Oregon, and gave a flag presentation.  I took a group picture of the kids holding the flags.

Students at Troutdale Elementary School with Michael’s flags.
Students at Troutdale Elementary School with Michael’s flags.

The flags shown in the photo are:

  • Back wall:  Poland, Maldives, Kuwait, Nicaragua, and Lebanon.
  • Also on the wall is a map of the world with dots on the countries relating to the flags.  The students learn where all the countries are from the flags.  This is a fun way to teach world geography.
  • The boy in the back is holding both the flag of Panama and the flag of the Bahamas.
  • Front large flags:  Philippines and Slovakia.
  • For the Philippine flag I explained that the flag is flown with the blue stripe on top during times of peace and the red strip on top during times of war.  The boy in the middle of the Philippine flag recently moved here from the Philippines.
  • For the Slovakian flag I explained that there are two different versions of the flag, for when the flag is flown horizontally or vertically, so that the coat of arms is always upright.
  • Middle section:  United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Georgia, New Zealand, Saint Lucia, and Mexico.

In June I sent a second letter requesting a flag to all the nations that did not send me a flag the first time.  The letter included the photo of the kids holding the flags and a newspaper article about another flag project I was involved in.  I am again receiving flags.  To date I have received another 15 flags in different sizes.  Most are cloth flags and Namibia is a paper flag.  Many nations have sent lots of tourist information about their country.  Malaysia also included three lapel pins.

This is a fun project and each day I do not know what the mail will bring.

Editor’s note:

Michael brought many of these flags to our September meeting, and showed the binder in which he is collecting all the correspondence with the nations’ representatives and photos of himself with each flag.  More arrive each month.

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Author: SDM

Ethnography * Technology * Design

2 thoughts on “United Nations Flag Project”

  1. Hey, I like this and much thanks to Michael O for his effort and passion in providing flag experience and education. Patrick Genna, Portland Flag Association, Oregon

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