BDN’s Opinion Department operates independently and does not establish newsroom policy or contribute to reporting or editing of articles anywhere in the newspaper or in bangordailynews.com.
Robert W. Glover is a professor of political science and honors at the University of Maine. These are his views and do not express the views of the University of Maine System or the University of Maine. He is a co-leader of the Maine Branch of the Undergraduate Strategy Network.
Now, you’ve probably seen Maine ‘s original 1901 flag: a lone pine tree and blue star on a sparkling background. But you know the MP in Augusta is considering LD 115, the size that will make it the country’s official flag once again?
I join a growing Maine choir that supports this initiative. I will most likely lose many friends making this argument. But I want to tell all of you that I regret nothing.
First, note that I am an unrepentant lover of all variants of the Maine flag. In our house we circle the 1901 flag, the 1909 flag and the bicentennial flag. However, the “lone pine” flag of 1901 occupies a special place in my heart and on my flagpole.
In the past few weeks, I have seen the rags of Maine’s past be viciously attacked. Opponents of the 1901 flag called it an “arts and crafts” project or suggested that it looked like children were drawing it. They confirmed that the flag was experiencing an identity crisis. Is it pine, spruce, or spruce? On social media, some of you (you know who you are) are implying that the 1901 flag is the “hipster Maine flag” or the “Edison flag of Maine”. Guys, we’re better than this.
First, proponents of the flag feel it is a typical Maine portrait, embodiment of the country motto “Dirigo” (I lead). This is ironic. Our state flag is basically synonymous with Another 25 state flags with the state seal on a blue background. Look at Vermont, Montana, or North Dakota. The placement of the state seal varies or is of a certain blue color. But this flag cousin kissing.
The first flag like that? New York in 1901. That’s right. What better way to “lead” than to join the flock that imitates Empire State?
There are so many copycats that flag experts, called vexillologists, refer to designs as CRY: “seal on the bed sheet.” And if you haven’t read the testimony of the Maine relaxologist himself, David Martucci, at LD 115, you have to do it. It is interesting and insightful.
Second, yes, the flag is simple. Simple is better. That’s flag design 101. Think about it iconic country flag: California, Texas, Colorado. Simple. Can be reproduced. A gifted child or mediocre adult can draw an appreciable version at a glance.
It’s no surprise that Maine is ranks 60th in a ranking flags of the American states and provinces of Canada carried out by the Vexillological Association of North America. We just go beyond the dregs of other SOB flags. But if we cross LD 115, we can join the great ranks of New Mexico, Alaska and the Marshall Islands.
Lastly, it is a guarantee for the existing flag lovers. The proposal path in the Legislative Body looks dim. But even if LD 115 passes, the fishermen, farmers and beloved elk will go nowhere. No soulless, gray-faced bureaucrats have come to confiscate your flag. My house will continue to rotate our collection of Maine flags. The country seal will be used in all kinds of official arrangements.
Let us consider truly eloquent legislative testimony from Foreign Minister Shenna Bellows at LD 115: “Symbolically this day, the flag reminds us of our unity as one person engaged in a common cause, and to endure difficult struggles together. The flag design is made meaningful by the people who receive it. “
Personally, I hope we return the “lone pine” flag to its glory in 2021. I realize that such changes can be difficult and slow.
But, all put aside, after the Mainers endured joint struggle this year, I will proudly salute and make meaningful whatever flags are chosen by the Maine Legislature. And I’ll do it with all of you, be it the beautiful 1901 “lone pine” or the bold and charming “seal on the sheets”.
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