The state flag of Oregon is one of the most unique in the United States of America. It is currently the only flag that is two-sided, which means that both sides of the flag have different patterns. The state flag's current design was adopted on February 26, 1925. The flag has been the center of much controversy recently. When the North American Vexillological Association (NAVA) surveyed the designs of the flags of US states, territories, and Canadian provinces, the Oregon's flag was ranked 62 of 72. This poor ranking was mainly attributed to the intricate nature of the flag's symbols, as well as its two-sided structure. The color of the flag’s crest also played a role in the low ranking. After the ranking was announced, efforts were made to either redesign the flag or change it completely.
Redesigning the Oregon State Flag
In 2013, the year of state's sesquicentennial, The Oregonian newspaper held a contest to redesign the flag and gather public opinion on the new designs. The contest was changed to include a "none of the above" option so that supporters of the current design could vote and their opinion could be tallied as well. The results showed that the majority of Oregonians were content with the current design of the flag. The same year, a motion to redesign the flag was presented to the state senate, but the bill did not make it past the committee.
Current Oregon State Flag
The current flag is a two-sided navy blue field with symbols and letters in gold, which are the state colors. The front, or obverse side of the flag, features the official state seal in gold, which is surrounded by 33 stars, symbolizing Oregon as the 33rd state to join the Union. The words "STATE OF OREGON" are written in gold above, in a wave shape that follows the contours of the seal. The year 1859, when Oregon became a state, is included below the seal. The back, or reverse side of the flag, features Oregon's state animal, the beaver, fully stretched on a log. The official proportions of the flag have been set to a width to length ratio of 3:5.
The seal in the flag is a shield divided into horizontal bars. One part depicts a British man-of-war departing US shores and an American steamer arriving, symbolizing the end of British rule. The second displays an elk, mountains and a covered wagon, symbolizing the economy, hunting seasons and the climate of the state. A sheaf is depicted alongside a pickaxe and a plow, which represent the main industries of the state, which are mining and agriculture.
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