How to make a hideous state flag even more hideous

In 2001, the North American Vexillological Association (NAVA) asked visitors of its website to give their opinion on 72 subnational and territorial flags of the United States and Canada. 100 NAVA members and over 300 non-members ranked the 72 flags on a scale of 0 to 10 (worst to best).

The flag of the great state of Wisconsin came in…65th?

Out of 72?

This is nutty, especially when the rather ridiculous state flag of Maryland…

…was ranked #4.


New Mexico.

I don’t get that either. No offense, but to me, a simple Midwesterner, that flag doesn’t cry anything at all about New Mexico.

What made perfect sense in this unscientific ranking was the second from dead last flag at #71.


Let’s decipher that mess. You’ve got a blue background and the state seal, that features a steamboat in the Missouri River, a train heading toward the Rocky Mountains, a blacksmith with a hammer and anvil, a settler’s cabin, and sheaves of wheat,  in varying shades of silver and gold.

But you didn’t need my explanation. You could plainly see and understand all that, right?

You see all that mess?

A Nebraska state Senator, Burke Harr said, “That’s fine for a state seal but a flag needs to be instantly identifiable.”

Ted Kaye, who wrote a book on flag design called “Good Flag, Bad Flag” said “Try identifying this flag…


…when it’s up on a pole and flapping in the wind.” A good flag “should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory”, should “never use writing of any kind or an organization’s seal” and should “be distinctive.”

So, as a state flag, Nebraska’s stinks.


Could it get any worse?

I’m fascinated by this story. That’s why I blog about it. I blog about stuff I’m very interested in, passionate about especially.

I worked in the state Capitol in Madison for 15 years. My current workplace has a WI state flag and an American flag prominently displayed. So if you ask me questions about our state flag I could probably get most (okay, some) right.

I do know this. Wisconsin’s state flag is art. Nebraska’s? My 7-year old daughter Kyla could be commissioned to draw a much better one.

I repeat the question.

Could it get any worse for that pathetic flag?

Oh, yes, and it did.

Remember Johnny Carson on the old Tonight Show? He’d say something like, “That Nebraska state flag is soooo ugly,” and he’d repeat it. Eventually the audience would catch on.

“HOW UGLY WAS IT?” they would shout.

How ugly?

That’s the Nebraska state Capitol Building. Not quite like…

But I digress.

Where were we?

Oh yes! How ugly, that Nebraska state flag.

The flag recently had been hoisted incorrectly on top of the Nebraska state capitol building. It was upside down.

It gets better.

No one noticed it was upside down…for 10 days!

Nebraska state Senator Burke Harr said the flag was raised on a very cold day and the person who performed the duties did so as quickly as he could to get out of the inclement weather.

That’s bad, of course, but nobody noticed for 10 days because the flag is so cluttered.

State Senator Burke Harr now wants to pass legislation to re-design the flag, and thinks now would be a good time. Why? Look at the flag again.


This year marks the sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) of the state of Nebraska.

Making changes? Won’t be easy. You’re messing with mega years of history.



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