Thursday, May 10, 2012

Flying the Flag of PA

I was having trouble coming up with a post for today, so I headed over to the Massachusetts DeMolay Blog to see what they had been up to. One of the recent articles discussed the history of their state flag. I realized that I've never really tackled this topic, so I went out and pulled up some information to share on our Flag of the Commonwealth.

The first Pennsylvania State Flag to display the Pennsylvania Coat of Arms was authorized by the General Assembly in 1799. The state Coat of Arms was embroidered on a blue field on both sides of the flag.
The State Coat of Arms, containing the emblems of the official state seal, was that of Provincial Pennsylvania's Penn family. It first appeared on paper money issued by the state in 1777 and two years later was adopted for display on the state flag.

During the Civil War, many Pennsylvania regiments carried a modified version of the Stars and Stripes. Substituted for the field of stars on Old Glory was the Pennsylvania Coat of Arms.

On June 13, 1907, the Pennsylvania General Assembly standardized the design of the flag and required that the field of blue be the same color as the blue of the Flag of the United States. The law requires that the flag
"...shall be of blue, the same color as the blue field in the flag of the United States, and of the following dimensions and design; to wit, the length, or height, of the staff to be nine feet, including brass spear-head and ferrule, the fly of the said flag to be six feet and two inches, and to be four feet and six inches on the staff; in the center of the flag there shall be embroidered in silk the same on both sides of the flag the coat of arms of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in proportionate size; the edge to be trimmed with knotted fringe of yellow silk, two and one-half inches wide; a cord, with tassels, to be attached to the staff at the spear-head, to be eight feet and six inches long, and composed of white and blue strands."

That's all well and good, but what's this about the State Coat of Arms? Pennsylvania's coat of arms is not used in the official capacity of the state seal, but it's a familiar symbol of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and appears on countless documents and publications. The coat of arms also includes the state motto: "Virtue, Liberty, and Independence."

Based on a 1778 design by Caleb Lownes of Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania coat of arms features a shield crested by an American bald eagle, flanked by horses, and adorned with symbols of Pennsylvania's strengths - a ship carrying state commerce to all parts of the world; a clay-red plough (a symbol of the Pennsylvania's rich natural resources); and three golden sheaves of wheat, representing fertile fields and Pennsylvania's wealth of human thought and action. An olive branch and cornstalk cross limbs beneath - symbols of peace and prosperity. The state motto ("Virtue Liberty and Independendence") appears festooned below.

Next time you see our state flag, take a look at it, and realize the history involved in its design.

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

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