As the Utah Legislature considers the newly proposed state flag, the words of Benjamin Franklin come to mind: “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”
Utah’s success is partly due to our sempiternal desire to improve, never to be content with a good thing that could be made better. In this spirit of growth and progress, I support the newly proposed state flag.
As I watched the process unfold, I was encouraged by the emergence of our shared values and powerful symbols that tie us together as Utahns.
The beehive at the center represents the heart of our state’s cultural identity. It’s anchored by a blue stripe representing our wide-open skies and a grounding red stripe representing our iconic canyons. In the center, a jagged white band evokes the mountains, which symbolize home to generations of Utahns.
A star conjures our state’s foundational ideals of hope and denotes Utah’s position as the country’s 45th state. Overall, the flag’s red, white, and blue colors symbolize our love of freedom and country, while the gold accents embody the prosperity of our state slogan, “Industry.
I’m pleased that the new design is inspired by and incorporates all of the elements of good design detailed by Ted Kay in his book “Good Flag, Bad Flag.” His five elements of good flag design are:
- Keep it simple.
- Use meaningful symbolism.
- Use two or three colors.
- No lettering or seals.
- Be distinctive.
Unfortunately, Utah’s current flag violates more than a few of these rules. For starters, our flag is far from simple. Odds are you’d be unable to draw the flag from memory alone. It uses a broad color palette, going well over the limit prescribed by most vexillologists.
Perhaps our flag’s most egregious design offense is its use of lettering and seals. The word “Utah” is written directly at the center. When you have to write the name of what you’re representing on your flag, it’s clear the symbolism has room for improvement.
I’m reminded of the symbolic power flags possess each day as I walk through the state flag gallery on my way to the Capitol. Utah deserves a flag as distinctive as its people. The newly proposed flag offers an opportunity to tell Utah’s story to the world in a way they can understand and remember.
I look forward to seeing Utah’s new flag in the nation’s Hall of States with a design inspired by our history and shared values. It will represent the state to our people and our people to the country at large.
I encourage Utah’s lawmakers to support the change and am eagerly awaiting the day I can display our new flag outside my office.
Mike Lee is the senior U.S. senator representing the state of Utah.