The flag of Arkansas was designed by Willie Kavanaugh Hocker, a member of Daughters of the American Revolution, Pine Bluff chapter. The flag was proposed on February 26th, 1912, and adopted by the legislature in 1913 and has been modified twice since then. It comprises of a red rectangle with a white diamond center bordered by a blue band containing 25 white stars. The white diamond has the state name ‘Arkansas’ in the middle, with one star on top of the name and three stars below, all in blue. Two of the stars below the name are on the same level while the 3rd centering the two is slightly lower and faces down. In a survey conducted in 2001 by the North American Vexillological Association, the flag was placed 45th in design and quality over 72 other flags of the US and Canada ranked.
History of the Arkansas State Flag
In 1912 with the fast approaching commissioning of the USS Arkansas battleship, it came to light that Arkansas had no state flag. To design a flag, a contest was decided upon with the Daughters of American Revolution (DAR), Pine Bluff chapter as sponsors. Willie Hocker’s design won the contest. The design comprised a red rectangle centered by a white diamond with a blue border. The blue border had 25 white stars while the white diamond had three blue stars running through its middle. The design forms the basis of the current flag.
Modifications to the Flag
After a review by the flag committee chaired by the state secretary, Earle Hodges, it was decided that the flag needed to bear the state name. Hocker accepted the request by the committee and rearranged the three stars in the middle such that Arkansas now took the center with one star at the top and two at the bottom. The legislature adopted this flag on February 26th 1913.
In 1923, the legislature decided to add a 4th star which represents the confederate states of America. The star was first placed above the state name making it 2 stars above the name and 2 stars below. In 1924 this changed, the confederate star was placed above the state name and the other 3 stars below it making it the flag it is today.
Meaning of the Flag Symbols
The 1987 state law defines the symbols of the flag. These symbols include a diamond, the 25 white stars, and the blue border.
The diamond symbolizes Arkansas as the only state mining diamond at the time. Diamond mines have since been discovered in Colorado and Montana.
The 25 white stars around the blue border symbolize Arkansas as the 25th state to join the union now known as the United States.
The single star above the state name Arkansas symbolizes the confederate states of America which Arkansas had seceded, but joined during the civil war.
The three stars below the state name ‘Arkansas’ have three meanings: (1) they represent the three states which Arkansas belonged to before it became a state, which are France, Spain, and the United States, (2) the Louisiana Purchase signed in 1803, which saw Arkansas and other states bought by the US from France, (3) after the Louisiana Purchase, Arkansas was the third state to be formed.
The two outer stars of the three bottom stars are considered twin stars. They are on the same level and are said to represent the two states, the twin states of Michigan and Arkansas. It is claimed that they both were accepted to the union on June 15, 1836.
Lastly, the blue border around the white diamond mimics what could be seen on the confederate battle flags.
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