Archive for Saturday, July 7, 2001

Vexing vexillologists

July 7, 2001


Most of us didn't know what vexillology was all about until we read about a poll conducted by the North American Vexillological Assn., declared that Kansas has one of the five worst state flags in the nation.

These people study flags and they don't like the state flag of Kansas.

Now, this makes us feel a little defensive. Surely they don't appreciate the symbolism of the flag and the details in the state seal that adorns it. The flag is a tasteful navy blue background with "KANSAS" in gold block letters at the bottom. Nothing too flashy for us Kansans, but navy blue and gold are good federal colors.

The state seal is colorful and tells a lot about our state. A farmer tills the soil in the foreground to showcase our agricultural heritage and covered wagons journey across the seal in commemoration of the state's role in the settlement of the American West.

Flatlands predominate in Kansas, but the seal's artist apparently was drawing on the northeast part of the state in depicting the sun setting behind some rolling hills. Above the hills is an array of 34 stars, signifying that Kansas was the 34th state to join the union. The state motto, "Ad Astra Per Aspera" crowns the seal which sits just below a sunflower on the flag.

So what's wrong with that?

Well, the vexing vexillologists think it's too busy. A flag, they say should be so simple a child can draw if from memory. Don't they know that any child today would simply download the flag and print it off a website?

They say the ideal flag would have no more than three colors and stay away from seals and lettering. Are we assuming that people who look at flags are illiterate? And the many colors in our state seal are a striking and beautiful symbol of our rich heritage.

So maybe people need to look a little closer at our flag to fully appreciate its detail. That's OK. Kansas is worth a second look.

Anyway, thanks to the North American Vexillological Assn. for the vocabulary lesson. Vexillology isn't in our office dictionary, but apparently it's an inexact science studied by people who, as one Kansas historian put it, "don't have much to do."

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