Sunday, February 6, 2011

1847 and Three Drops of Blood

The Utah Legislature is considering a Resolution to correct the manufacturing of Utah State Flags. For eighty-nine years examples of the Utah State Flag have been made with a flaw in the design. The correction is a small one; return the numerals for the year 1847 to their correct position immediately below the word Utah and the Beehive. The colors will also be returned to those used when the flag's symbols were first shown in color. Are Utahns the only ones to get excited about small detail in their state's flag.

The Louisiana State Flag, dating from 1912, displays a "pelican in her piety."  This charge from heraldry depicts a mother pelican wounding herself by plunging her bill into her breast to obtain blood to feed her young.   Over the years the drops of blood, which were originally shown on Louisiana State flags, disappeared, until an eighth grade student noticed the error and brought it to the attention of state legislators.  In April 2006, the Louisiana State Legislature passed a bill requiring that three drops of blood be shown on the pelican's breast when depicted on the Louisiana State Flag and Seal. On the 23rd of November of 2010 Louisiana officials unveiled a new state flag at the swearing in ceremonies of the Secretary of State and one of his aides. Required by the 2006 law, the flag presented a more sophisticated illustration of the pelican which included the three drops of blood.

A great story with great parallels.  The placement of 1847 on the Utah State Flag is indeed a small matter, but so are three drops of blood on a pelican's breast.

Curtis Haring, a self appointed Watchdog of the Utah Legislature, at first thought it a waste of legislative time and effort. On reflection, he felt differently. He summed it up well in his blog "Blue in a Red Zion":

"Yes, this is a minor thing . . . . Big deal in reality? No, but it is a symbolic thing and it is important to get things right."



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