Suggestions for Improving the NH State Flag

It's a gross old flag. Here are the relative aesthetic merits of our state flag and an alternative.



Illustration by Brad Fitzpatrick

Dear Governor Hassan:

As you lead our state in observance of Flag Day on June 14, please take a moment away from your duties in honor of Old Glory to observe the disgusting mess that is our state flag. Note the resemblance, at a distance, our flag has to a stained blue carpet. While it is understandable that your ongoing agenda will address important issues such as education, Obamacare exchanges, Medicaid expansion, gambling, demographic collapse and the like, I urge you to take a little time to correct the abomination that is our public symbol, our flag.

A 2001 survey by the North American Vexillological Association of US State and Territorial and Canadian Provincial Flags rated ours in the bottom 10. Their conclusion may be vexing but it is also logical, all due respect to the state of Georgia, whose flag seems to feature some kind of playground apparatus, despite being updated after the survey. Our flag is inexcusable; it shows no creativity and lacks any coherent representation of our state’s character.  

The flag is our state seal centered in a blue field, which would accurately describe the flags of 25 or so other states. The nine stars are meant to indicate that we were the ninth state to ratify the Constitution, which is all well and good until you notice the two extra stars around the 1776 on the seal.  Do they count as half-stars because they’re smaller? Is the total 11? 10? Am I to simply ignore the two decorative stars on a seal drenched with symbolism?

"The flag lacks any coherent representation of our state’s character."

And what a seal it is. Two — two! — laurel wreaths encircle the tableau, symbolizing victory and honor. There, within the laurel crown, lit by the rising sun and floating in what appears to be lemon-flavored pudding — or is it very buttery mashed potatoes? — is the USS Raleigh, one of the first 13 ships commissioned by the Continental Congress. Yes, we have every right to be proud of our — yes, I said “our” — shipyard, but should we really be highlighting a ship that was run aground, lost in a battle, captured by the British and then used against us for the remainder of the war? Victory and honor indeed! We should be thankful that the USS Thresher wasn’t around in 1909; the flag designers would probably have given us a picture of the submarine imploding.

What of the strong New Hampshire granite, our pride, spirit and dignity made stone? Sadly, I must refer you to the aforesaid pool of  lemon pudding.  I’m no geologist, but I’ve never seen granite so yellow.  Granite is strong, resolute, beautiful in power.  The stuff of august edifices and functionally elegant countertops. The yellow of the alleged granite on our seal and flag is the color of ducklings and buttercups.

I’m a man of solutions, however, so I would like to propose to you an alternate design. Imagine it: a field of green occupying one half of the flag and ending in a profile of the Old Man of the Mountain; the other half white. Ideally, I’d include the state motto upon the white half of the flag, but I will compromise on this point if I must.

Straight-forward, honest, strong; like us, yes? 

Ross “Betsy” Bettis is an imaginary, cantankerous nom de guerre contained — loosely — within the head of Kevin Fox of Goffstown, an educator.

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