On September 13, 2023

‘Vermont Strong’ flags could help flood recovery

 

Dear Editor,

It was probably inevitable in this partisan age that even a good-faith initiative to replace a nondescript state flag with a new design that more vividly captures a state’s history would — in the words of The New York Times — “prompt furious backlash that shows how politically risky such a change can be.”

In Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Utah, battle lines have formed along the divisive new v. old flag debate. Maine’s attempt to replace its state flag (virtually indistinguishable from Vermont’s) with the distinctive pine tree and blue star is mired in a “woke v. non-woke” debate — terms that even a decade ago would have been meaningless.

Our current state flag is representative of a time in the early 20th century when legislatures chose to conform with the practice of placing the state seal on a blue background. The Vermont state flag is easily confused with Maine’s or a dozen other state flags but not, for example, ever mistaken for California’s or Alaska’s. 

I have long thought that Vermont’s state flag does not do justice to our history. The flag of the Green Mountain Boys (“Stark flag”) is more striking and serves as a better symbol of Vermont’s history than our 1923 state seal flag adopted so Vermont’s governor could have a flag for ceremonial purposes.

As the 14th state admitted to the Union, Vermonters rightly expected that a new star and new stripe would be added to the American flag. When we got only the star, Vermonters came up with a flag that had sufficient stars and stripes. “Vermont” was written on it — lest anyone confuse it with “Old Glory.”

Here’s an idea. Vermont can make sense out of nonsense in the “flag debates.” It is not critical that a new Vermont flag be officially adopted. But what about making such a flag a symbol of “Vermont Strong”? For every purchase of the new flag, a portion of the proceeds could go to flood relief.

It could be a flag for those who have survived rainy days in the past and will gain strength in the days to come. And a sign that Vermont — as it so often has done in the past — can lead all to a higher ground.

Jeff Amestoy,

Waterbury Center

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