New Flags for Australia’s States?

by Max Liberman, Vexilloid Tabloid #58

In 2001, Australian vexillographer Brendan Jones produced a series of intriguing proposals for new Australian state flags. The designs follow the pattern established by the flags of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory: the southern cross from the national flag in a panel at the hoist, and an emblem representative of the state in the fly.

For New South Wales, the hoist is dark blue and the fly sky blue (the state color), bearing a red waratah (the state flower).  Jones notes that the waratah “is also of significance to many local Aboriginal peoples and hence serves as an important symbol of Aboriginal recognition and reconciliation”.

The proposal for Victoria is in dark blue and white. In the fly, an eight-pointed star, taken from the historic Eureka flag of 1854, is counterchanged and combined with an inverted triangle to form the shape of the state’s initial “V”.

For Queensland, the hoist again is dark blue; the gold fly (which represents the state’s sunshine and golden beaches) is charged with a stylized Cooktown orchid (the state’s floral emblem) in maroon, the state color. The orchid’s six petals represent Queensland as the sixth and last of Australia’s states to have been established as a British colony.

South Australia’s heraldic colors of blue, gold, and red all appear in its proposed flag. The blue hoist represents the Southern Ocean and the red fly the desert of the Outback; a narrow gold fimbriation separates the two and the fly is charged with the piping shrike from the existing state flag and coat of arms.

The design for Western Australia uses the state’s heraldic and sporting colors of black (hoist) and gold (fly); the gold also represents the state’s mineral wealth and expansive desert. The fly bears the state emblem, the black swan, which appears in the current flag and badge and evokes the state’s former name, the Swan River Colony.

For Tasmania, both the state’s unofficial sporting color (green) and its heraldic colors (red and white) are used.  The hoist is red and the fly white, charged with a map of the state in green; the green also symbolizes Tasmania’s natural heritage.

On the whole, the proposed designs are clear and distinctive, and the unifying pattern of the hoist panel with the southern cross makes them unmistakably Australian. All of them would be a considerable improvement over the British colonial ensigns currently serving as state flags. But it might also be felt that the use of the NT/ACT model inappropriately blurs the constitutional distinction between Australia’s states and territories, and that for the states’ flags to adhere to a uniform template does not serve to represent their individual identities and their status as sovereign entities within the Australian federation.

Jones’s website featuring the designs can be found at http://bc.id.au/flags/.

 

Vexilloid Tabloid #58

The latest issue of the PFA newsletter is here:  The Vexilloid Tabloid #58 (June 2016). Featuring:

  • Introduction: NZ, VT, and Albany (Ted Kaye)
  • A U.S. Canton Honoring Alaska (Michael Orelove)
  • A Flag for the Other Portland (Ted Kaye)
  • Czech Municipal Flags (interview with Petr Exner by Scott Mainwaring)
  • Redesigning the U.S. Flag (Scott Mainwaring)
  • New Flags for Australia’s States? (Max Liberman)

As always, you can find notes from the last PFA meeting, a roundup of flag-related news and notes, the What’s that Flag? quiz, and Portland Flag Miscellany (flag usage in Portland and the many uses of Portland’s city flag).

And, as always, it’s free and worth every penny!

quote058

 

 

Pride, Unity, and Flag Design

In Vexilloid Tabloid #57 we reported on a research project by Australian high school senior Max Pickering.  Since then, he has interviewed a number of vexillologists; conducted surveys of residents of his home town of Adelaide, South Australia; and revised his research question to the following:

To what extent does the design of a flag influence its ability to evoke a sense of identity and pride?

The results of his study are nicely presented in this 12 minute YouTube video.

 

Survey Results
Survey results: Proportion of respondents agreeing that the flag produces pride or unity, or is well designed, for the Australian national flag vs. the Adelaide city flag.

Xavier Rudd & The United Nations: Flag

Xavier Rudd is an Australian singer-songwriter who recently brought together musicians from Australia, Germany, Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and South Africa to form the band United Nations.  Their reggae song Flag leads off their latest album Nanna.

The video is built around images of white flags — the white flag of peace, not surrender.

Xavier Rudd & The United Nations: Flag. Directed & Produced by Grey Ghost. Director of Photography: Nick Rieve.

Coming with his own designs, his own style, his own awakening
He told me yes he can forgive, but he can never forget it
Weapons always close to hand, for he has seen too much hatred
Only weapon that he chooses is love, universal call now for justice
[Chorus]
And I’ll keep on waving this flag, cover my head, cover my back now
And I’ll keep on waving this flag, cover my head, cover my back now
And I’ll keep waving this flag, cover your head, cover your back now
People keep on waving this flag, cover my head, cover my back now
You know, you know, I said praise Jandamarra and the Bunuba tribe
Building the resistance with strength and pride
Said no to domination of the ancient clans
Protection of his people and his tribal lands
Healing in the tunnel at his mothers right hand
Healing in the tunnel with the spirit of the land
Precedent set for the present day
Time to stand, time to keep waving that flag
Cover my head, cover my back now
[Chorus]
And I’ll keep on waving this flag, cover my head, cover my back now
People keep on waving this flag and I’ll cover your head, and I’ll cover your back now
People keep on waving this flag, cover my head, cover my back now
Said people keep on waving this flag
People keep on waving this flag, cover my back now
(keep waving, keep on waving that flag)
Coming with my own designs, feeling strong, feeling able
Community is coming alive, loaded weapons are on the table
[Chorus]
And I’ll keep on waving this flag, cover my head, cover my back now
People keep on waving this flag, cover my head, cover my back now
People keep on waving this flag, and I’ll cover your head and I’ll cover your back now
People keep on waving this flag, cover my head, cover my back now
Said people keep on waving this flag
People keep on waving this flag, cover my back now
(keep waving, keep on waving that flag)

Read more: Xavier Rudd & The United Nations – Flag Lyrics | MetroLyrics

xavier

soldier-patches

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sea-shepherd

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Xavier Rudd will be performing in Portland on October 20.  For more on white flags in music videos, see our February 2015 post Musical White Flags.

Aboriginal Flag First Flown 44 Years Ago Today

From Ausflag‘s page on the (Australian) Aboriginal Flag:

Flag Adopted: 4 July 1995 (in use since 12 July 1971) Flag Proportion: 2:3
Flag Adopted: 4 July 1995 (in use since 12 July 1971)
Flag Proportion: 2:3

The Aboriginal Flag was designed by Harold Thomas, an artist and an Aboriginal, in 1971. The flag was designed to be an eye-catching rallying symbol for the Aboriginal people and a symbol of their race and identity. The black represents the Aboriginal people, the red the earth and their spiritual relationship to the land, and the yellow the sun, the giver of life.

In the late 1960s, Aborigines stepped up their campaign for indigenous land rights through protest marches, demonstrations, banners and posters. The protests increased in the early 1970s and Harold Thomas noticed they were often outnumbered by non-Aborigines with their own banners and placards. He decided they needed to be more visible and the idea of the flag was born.

The Aboriginal flag was first raised in Victoria Square in Adelaide on National Aboriginal Day in 1971, but was adopted nationally by Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders in 1972 after it was flown above the Aboriginal “Tent Embassy” outside of the old Parliament House in Canberra.

Mr Thomas has often been asked to design a new Australian flag, but he says the design of the Aboriginal flag “sprung from passionate times” and that his inspiration could not necessarily “be repeated” for a new Australian flag. Mr Thomas says he would prefer to see something different for a new Australian flag.

Mr Thomas is also uneasy about suggestions that the Aboriginal Flag could replace the Union Jack in the current Australian flag to create a new national flag. Mr Thomas says “Our flag is not a secondary thing. It stands on its own, not to be placed as an adjunct to any other thing. It shouldn′t be treated that way.”

The Aboriginal flag is increasingly being flown by both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. In view of its increasing importance in Australian society, the Government initiated steps in 1994 to give the flag legal recognition. After a period of public consultation, the Government made its own decision in July 1995 that the flag should be proclaimed a “Flag of Australia” under section 5 of the Flags Act 1953. The flag was so proclaimed by the Governor General of Australia, William Hayden, on 14 July 1995.

Harold Thomas, designer of the Aboriginal Flag.
Harold Thomas, designer of the Aboriginal Flag.

Roundup (from VexTab #52)

From Vexilloid Tabloid #52

Note: “Roundup” — of flag related items sent to the editor — is a regular feature in The Vexilloid Tabloid.

Architect and artist David Ferriday continues to create his interesting graphic art incorporating hidden messages with a flag theme.  Here is one of his latest works.
Architect and artist David Ferriday continues to create his interesting graphic art incorporating hidden messages with a flag theme. Here is one of his latest works.
Mason Kaye spotted this ultra-reductionist version of the flag    of Brazil in street graffiti in LA’s Koreatown neighborhood.
Mason Kaye spotted this ultra-reductionist version of the flag of Brazil in street graffiti in LA’s Koreatown neighborhood.
Michael Orelove’s niece, Eden Orelove, lives in Washington, D.C., and recently came to Seattle for a visit.  They posed for a photo holding the D.C. flag with the Space Needle in the distance. This put the Washington, D.C., flag in Seattle, Washington—continuing an enthusiasm Michael appears to have for flags in our neighbor state to the north.
Michael Orelove’s niece, Eden Orelove, lives in Washington, D.C., and recently came to Seattle for a visit. They posed for a photo holding the D.C. flag with the Space Needle in the distance.
This put the Washington, D.C., flag in Seattle, Washington—continuing an enthusiasm Michael appears to have for flags in our neighbor state to the north.
The Salem city flag, designed in 1972 by Arvid Orbeck...
The Salem city flag, designed in 1972 by Arvid Orbeck…
... has found an echo in a logo for an organization across the Pacific Ocean (on   a sign, if not a flag). Do readers know of any more examples of such stripes-from-stars?
… has found an echo in a logo for an organization across the Pacific Ocean (on a sign, if not a flag).
Do readers know of any more examples of such stripes-from-stars?

Finally, coming up this year are two major vexillological events.  PFA members will attend both!

The 26th International Congress of Vexillology (ICV 26, flag pictured) will take place in Sydney, Australia, 31 August–4 September. See: icv26.com.au
The 26th International Congress of Vexillology (ICV 26) will take place in Sydney, Australia, 31 August–4 September. See: icv26.com.au.
NAVA’s 49th Annual Meeting (NAVA 49, conference flag pictured) will take place in    Ottawa, Ontario, 16–18 October. See: nava.org/all-annual-meetings/nava-49-2015
The 49th Annual Meeting of the North American Vexillological Association (NAVA 49, conference flag pictured) will take place in Ottawa, Ontario, 16–18 October. See: nava.org/all-annual-meetings/nava-49-2015

Redesigning Union Jack-based Flags

In the past few years the British Union Jack and flags that incorporate it have been matters of public interest and debate.  Fiji and New Zealand, and, to a lesser extent, Australia and the UK are or have been reconsidering the suitability of their existing flags.  Only Tuvalu appears resolute in keeping the Union Jack on its flag.

Taking these in order of time horizon for change, from most far-off to most near-term (and, perhaps not coincidentally, from biggest to smallest in affected population — with 9000-person Tuvalu as an outlier):

Tuvalu

The flag of Tuvalu
The current and former flag of Tuvalu.  Apparently influenced by the light blue flag of nearby Fiji, this design by children’s author Vione Natano was created to mark the country’s independence on 1 October 1978. (Independent, but retaining Elizabeth Windsor as Queen of Tuvalu.) The nine stars, pointing in various directions, form a map of Tuvalu’s nine islands.  Pro-republic Prime Minister Kamuta Latasi redesigned the flag to eliminate the Union Jack in January 1996 — but by April 1997 both he and his flag were gone after losing a no-confidence vote.  18 years later the issue appears to have been laid to rest.

United Kingdom

Redesign possibilities published by the Flag Institute in the UK, responding to public interest should Scotland secede.  See Jonathan Jones' February 2014 article, The union jack: how can a redesign do it justice?
Redesign possibilities published by the Flag Institute in the UK, responding to public interest should Scotland secede. See Jonathan Jones’ February 2014 Guardian article, The union jack: how can a redesign do it justice? Interest has since died down, following the defeat of the Scottish independence referendum in September 2014; but with the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon’s surprisingly strong showing in the recent British elections, a redesign of this flag may be, as she says of independence, “when, not if”.

Australia

John Blaxland's proposal for a new Australia flag.
John Blaxland’s 2013 proposal for a new Australia flag.  The flag debate in Australia has been simmering for decades, and has to some extent flared up around Blaxland’s proposal, but there seems to be little political will to change.  Perhaps the reality of a new flag over its neighbor New Zealand may stir things up again, though this may have the opposite effect as the issue of confusion with the Kiwi’s flag would be resolved.

New Zealand

Animation of proposed NZ flag redesigns, from Alissa Walker's May 2015 GIZMODO article, 9 Designs That Could Finally Replace New Zealand's Controversial Flag.
Animation of proposed NZ flag designs, from Alissa Walker’s May 2015 GIZMODO article, 9 Designs That Could Finally Replace New Zealand’s Controversial Flag.  Deputy Prime Minister Bill English is driving a $25 million, two year process with the intent of finding a flag that won’t be confused with Australia’s and will better represent the country’s multiethnic population.

Fiji

Current Flag of Fiji
The current flag of Fiji, based on its flag as a British colony, was simultaneously and independently designed by acquaintances Tessa MacKenzie and Robi Wilcock in 1970.  (The Flags of the World website has preserved a wonderful interview with Mrs. MacKenzie from that time.)  Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama announced February 3rd that Fiji will have a new, post-colonial flag adopted by October 10th, the 45th anniversary of its independence. As we reported yesterday the Portland Flag Association’s Ted Kaye has been appointed to the committee tasked with producing a short list of finalist designs out of 1,400 submissions.

Flags of the Vietnam War

On this 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, here is a look at some of its flags.

The flag of unified Vietnam flies above Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee (formerly Saigon City Hall).  Photo by Joshua Rappeneker, 18 Sep 2006.
The flag of unified Vietnam flies above Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee (formerly Saigon City Hall), with the HSBC bank tower in the background. Detail from a photo on flickr by Joshua Rappeneker, 18 Sep 2006.

The flag of Vietnam, a large yellow star on a field of red, has a simple, bold design.  Designed in 1940 for an uprising against French colonial rule, Ho Chi Minh proclaimed it the flag of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945, and the flag of the unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1976. Accounts vary on which Communist cadre designed it, official accounts saying Nguyễn Hữu Tiến, though others suggest Lê Quang Sô.  Tiến composed a poem about the flag, reading in part:

… All those of red blood and yellow skin
Together we fight under the nation’s sacred flag
The flag is soaked with our red blood, shed for the nation
The yellow star is the color of our race’s skin
Stand up, quickly! The nation’s soul is calling for us
Intellectuals, peasants, workers, traders and soldiers
United as a five-pointed yellow star…
Determined to fight the French and Japanese fascists…

A seven-flag safe conduct pass, one of billions of leaflets dropped over the war zone encouraging North Vietnamese and Viet Cong to defect.  Photo from flickr by Sean Svadilfari.
A “seven-flag” safe conduct (“giay thong-hanh”) pass, one of billions of leaflets dropped over the war zone encouraging North Vietnamese and Viet Cong to defect. Around the flag of South Vietnam are the flags of the US and its five allies Australia, Thailand, the Philippines, New Zealand, and South Korea. Photo on flickr by Sean Svadilfari.

This same theme of “red blood and yellow skin” is also understood to underlie the flag of South Vietnam (now also known as the Vietnamese Heritage and Freedom Flag): three red stripes on a field of yellow.  Catholic Vietnamese painter Lê Văn Đệ is credited with the 1948 design, which was based on a one decreed in 1890 by Emporer Thành Thái to be the national flag.  The stripes can be interpreted to refer to Tonkin, Annam, and Cochinchina (the northern, central, and southern protectorates of French Vietnam), or the trigram ☰ symbolizing, among other things, south.

Members of the Vietnamese Student Association at San Jose State University march with the Heritage Flag.  Photo on flickr by Bao Thien Ngo, 29 January 2006.
Members of the Vietnamese Student Association at San Jose State University march with the Heritage Flag. Photo on flickr by Bao Thien Ngo, 29 January 2006.

Both flags, the red and the yellow, remain divisive symbols, especially to the Vietnamese immigrant community in the US.  After the surrender of the South to the North in 1975, the yellow flag became a banned symbol of disloyalty in Vietnam; and after the Clinton Administration normalized relations with Vietnam in 1995, as the flag of an unrecognized country, the yellow flag was banned from US military facilities.  This recently led to the last-minute cancellation at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendelton (near San Diego) of a large event for the American Vietnamese community when organizers insisted on flying what they saw as their flag there.  (Pendelton was where many thousands of refugees from Vietnam were processed upon arrival in the US following “Black April” 40 years ago.)  Conversely, the red flag is de-facto prohibited in Orange County’s Little Saigon and other areas dominated by Vietnam War-era immigrants.

Flag of the Vietnam Veterans of America
Flag of the Vietnam Veterans of America

Two organizations in the US related to the Vietnam War have noteworthy flags.  One is the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), whose flag is displayed in the Senate and House changers of the Veterans Affairs Committee in Washington, DC.  According to the VVA, the flag is based on the green, yellow, and red Vietnam Service Ribbon which was awarded to those “who served in Southeast Asia and the contiguous waters or air space thereover from July 4, 1965, through March 28, 1973”.  The brown stars represent the 17 official campaigns of the war.  Around the VVA insignia are a laurel branch and a sheaf of rice stalks bound together with black barbed wire that “serves as a reminder of the POWs and MIAs who are still unaccounted for”.

Flag of the National League of POW/MIA Families.
Flag of the National League of POW/MIA Families.

The other noteworthy flag belongs to the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia.  Annin Flagmakers (the largest US flag manufacturer) was instrumental in creating the flag in 1970, describing its origins:

In 1970 Mrs. Mary Hoff, an MIA wife and member of the National League of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia recognized the need for a symbol for our POW/MIAs. She read a newspaper article in the Jacksonville, Florida Times Union about Annin Flagmakers that explained how Annin helped to design and subsequently manufactured the flags for the newer UN member nations. After contacting Annin, Mrs. Hoff found Norman Rivkees who was VP of Sales at the time very sympathetic to the cause. He in turn contacted a local advertising agency and contracted graphic designer Newt Heisley to design a flag to represent the group.

Federal legislation in the 1990s gave official status to the flag and required its display on certain days at post offices and other government facilities.  Annin notes that “it remains one of the most popular organizational flags flown in the United States, selling in the tens of thousands every year”. By 1998 Congress had broadened the meaning of the flag from those missing in the Vietnam War to Americans unaccounted for in all past, present, and future wars.  Although most POW/MIA questions arising from Vietnam have long been settled, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency was formed this January to continue investigating cases from World War II through the First Gulf War. (Just 8 days ago it accounted for the remains of Richard Whitesides, an airman whose plane had crashed in Vietnam in 1964.)

With the Vietnam War over now for four decades, is it time to take down these black flags?  One brave editor of the Metrowest Daily News in Massachusetts thinks so — Rick Holmes published a long and thoughtful editorial advocating what sure to be a controversial proposal this week.

Arboreal Flags

A popular flag in Portland is the “Doug Flag” of Cascadia, a favorite of the Timbers Army and secessionist Pacific Northwesterners.

The flag of the bioregion of Cascadia, designed by Alexander Baretich, 1994-1995. Also known as the Doug Flag, it depicts a Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii). Source: Wikipedia.
The flag of the bioregion of Cascadia, designed by Alexander Baretich, 1994-1995. Also known as the Doug Flag, it depicts a Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii).
Source: Wikipedia.

Let’s look at some of its neighbors – tree flags of the world.

Lebanon Cedar

The Lebanese national flag, hand-drawn and signed by deputies of the Lebanese parliament. Source: www.clevelandpeople.com/groups/lebanese/lebanese.htm
The Lebanese national flag, hand-drawn and signed by deputies of the Lebanese parliament, 11 November 1943.  The tree is a Lebanon Cedar(Cedrus libani). Source: www.clevelandpeople.com/groups/lebanese/lebanese.htm

Norfolk Island Pine

The flag of the Australian territory of Norfolk Island, adopted in 1980. The tree is, appropriately enough, a Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla), endemic to the island.
The flag of the Australian territory of Norfolk Island, adopted in 1980. The tree is a Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla), endemic to the island. (Source: Wikipedia)

Fir

Town flag of Borjomi, Georgia. Source: Wikipedia.
Town flag of Borjomi, Georgia, adopted 2009.  The trees are firs. Source: Wikipedia and FOTW.

Oak

Flag of the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island, adopted 1964. The trees are oaks, the big one on the right representing England, the three saplings on the left the three counties comprising PEI. Source: Wikipedia and FOTW.
Flag of the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island, adopted 1964. The trees are oaks, the big one on the right representing England, the three saplings on the left the three counties comprising PEI. Source: Wikipedia and FOTW.
Town flag of Martvili, Georgia, adopted 2011. Source: FOTW and www.martvili-sakrebulo.ge.
Town flag of Martvili, Georgia, adopted 2011. The tree, an oak, refers to a large oak used for pagan celebrations that St. Andrew is said to have convinced the locals to cut down.  Source: FOTW and www.martvili-sakrebulo.ge.
Flag of the Nottinghamshire County Council, England. Source: British County Flags and Wikimedia Commons.
Flag of the Nottinghamshire County Council, England. Source: British County Flags and Wikimedia Commons.
City flag of Oakland, California, designed by George Laakso of San Leandro in 1952. Source: FOTW.
City flag of Oakland, California, designed by George Laakso of San Leandro in 1952. Source: FOTW and Wikimedia Commons.
Flag of Gernika-Lumo, Basque Country, Spain. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Flag of Gernika-Lumo, Basque Country, Spain. The tree is an oak called the Gernikako Arbola, site and symbol of Basque self-government. Source: Wikimedia Commons and Wikipedia.

Magnolia

Flag of the Confederate state of Mississippi, captured by the 2nd Iowa Cavalry on 30 May 1862, now at the State Historical Society of Iowa. The tree is a Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora). Source: Historical Flags article
Flag of the Confederate state of Mississippi, captured by the 2nd Iowa Cavalry on 30 May 1862, now at the State Historical Society of Iowa. The tree is a Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora). Source: Historical Flags article “Mississippi’s Magnolia Flags” by Clay Moss.

Palmetto

Flag of South Carolina. The tree is a Carolina Palmetto (Sabal palmetto). Source: Wikipedia.
Flag of South Carolina. The tree is a Carolina Palmetto (Sabal palmetto), and refers to the palmetto logs used to construct the fort on Sullivan’s Island that survived British bombardment on 28 June 1776. Source: Wikipedia and home.freeuk.net/gazkhan/blank_state.htm

White Pine

Flag of New England, ca 1775 (as it appears in Jonathan Trumbell's painting of 1785,
Flag of New England, 1775 (modern rendition). The tree is a White Pine (Pinus strobus). See “The New England Flag” by David B. Martucci. Image source: Wikipedia.  This flag has been adopted unofficially by fans of the MLS New England Revolution team, and officially as the flag of Lincoln County, Maine (1977).
The Pine Tree Flag of the American Revolution, 1775. Same tree as on the contemporaneous New England Flag. Source: Wikipedia.
The Pine Tree Flag of the American Revolution, 1775. Same tree as on the contemporaneous New England Flag. Source: Wikipedia.
The Lone Pine Flag of Dartmouth University. (Flag is flying at half-staff in memory of Dartmouth alum and US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop.) Source: thenaturalistsnotebook.com/science-music-and-fun-at-dartmouth
The Lone Pine Flag of Dartmouth University, designed by John Scotford for Dartmouth’s 1969 bicentennial.  It depicts a particular White Pine that used to stand on campus.  (In this photo the flag is flying at half-staff in memory of Dartmouth alum and US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop.) Source: thenaturalistsnotebook.com/science-music-and-fun-at-dartmouth

Mythological

Flag of the Kings of Gondor (from Tolkein's mythos). Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Flag of the Kings of Gondor (from Tolkein’s mythos). The tree is the White Tree of Gondor. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Unknown

Municipal flag of Pastvini, Czech Republic. Source: Wikimedia Commons and FOTW.
Municipal flag of Pastvini, Czech Republic. Source: Wikimedia Commons and FOTW.

Musical White Flags

The white flag of surrender is a recurring motif in popular music. Here is a brief survey, courtesy of YouTube:

Our first and most popular musical white flag was a 2003 pop hit by Dido with a video featuring Whedonverse actor David Boreanaz.  “White flag” appears in the chorus:  I will go down with this ship / And I won’t put my hands up in surrender / There will be no white flag above my door / I’m in love and always will be.  (But: since when has surrender been signaled by placing a white flag above a door?)

The virtual pop/hip hop band Gorillaz also has a song titled White Flag, from their 2010 concept album Plastic Beach that envisioned the band on an floating island of trash. “White flag” appears in the third verse, as a symbol of peace:  Cool! White flag! White flag! / (Uh-huh, no war!) / No guns! (No corps!) / Just life (Just love) / No hype (Just fun).

White Flag is also a song by the Christian Contemporary Music singer Chris Tomlin, the lead single from the 2012 album Passion: White Flag.  As in the Dido song, the white flag here is the flag of surrender: We raise our white flag / We surrender / All to You / All to You.  But also the flag of peace, as in the Gorillaz song: We raise our white flag / The war is over / Love has come / Your love has won.

Shaun Groves is another Christian singer/songwriter with a song about white flags and surrendering to God:  There’s a white flag / Waving where my colors used to fly / You win / There’s a white flag / Giving up and giving all of me — I give in / I’m Yours to reign and to rule / I’m just a fool / With a white flag.

Disney teen actress/singer Sabrina Carpenter‘s 2014 song White Flag continues the “surrender” theme in its chorus: I’ll throw the white flag of surrender / Knock me down, not forever, just for now.  (But: since when is surrender — even an apparently temporary one — signaled by throwing a white flag?)

Cinnamon Chasers is the name of a solo project by Russ Davies, the son of The Kinks’ Dave Davies.  His 2009 song White Flag includes this mellow yet aggressive lyric, demanding surrender:  I don’t want to hurt you now, / I don’t want to hit the ground, / Show me white flag, / I won’t fight no more.

Sri Lankan/South African/Australian hip hop/punk singer Ecca Vandal chose White Flag to be her 2014 debut single.  it’s been nominated as people’s choice Single of the Year by Rolling Stone Australia.

Our last musical White Flag was a punk band from California’s Moreno Valley whose name was a play on the famous hardcore band Black Flag (itself a reference to the black flag of anarchy). Their guitarist, the late Pat Fear, said “we’re trying to get back to an archistic state of music”.  This is a track from their 1984 album Third Strike.

The cover art for their Third Strike album is a nice mash-up of the US flag, the famous photo of the flag raising on Iwo Jima, and their four-bar logo (the inverse of their anti-namesake's, Black Flag).
The cover art for their Third Strike album is a nice mash-up of the US flag, the famous photo of the flag raising on Iwo Jima, and their four-bar logo (the tipped-over inverse of their anti-namesake’s, Black Flag).

This list is by no means complete. Do you know of other “white flag” songs? Please tell us about them in the comments below.