For an entire week, Jan. 26 to Feb. 1, Nebraska’s state flag flew upside down at the state capitol building. Yet, many seemed not to notice.
To see if a few students could recognize the state flag, I took a poll around campus on Friday, Feb. 3. I came to the conclusion that a majority sample size (96 out of the 135 students) think Nebraska’s state flag is the one associated with the University of Nebraska’s flag, which is a big red ‘N’ on a white background. (a.k.a Cornhuskers)
“I honestly have no idea what the real flag looks like, and I personally don’t care,” comments junior theology major and North Carolina native Julius Ellis. “In my defense, I’m not from here.”
In case you’re now wondering what it looks like, the actual state flag is navy blue with a golden seal of a steamboat in the Missouri River. Also pictured is a train heading toward the Rocky Mountains, a blacksmith with a hammer and anvil, a settler’s cabin, and sheaves of wheat. The state motto, “Equality Before the Law,” is at the top of the Nebraska banner.
Because of the original incident where the flag flew in the wrong direction unnoticed for quite sometime, Senator Burke Harr is now campaigning for a redesign to the banner.
Senator Harr is one of the 49 senators in our state and he represents the eighth district, located in Omaha. “The seal we have now was designed over 150 years ago. It was fitting for its time back then, but the question now is whether or not it’s symbolic now,” comments Harr.
According to a survey done by the North American Vexillological Association, a group that studies flags, Nebraska was ranked in the bottom five, while website Thrillist ranked it 49 of the 50 states, just barely ahead of Maryland which can be found on their website here. Students and critics both agree the seal is hard to read and that the overall design is similar to numerous state flags that also have blue backgrounds.
“What we are forming is a task force to consider changing the design we currently have, then maybe opening up a competition for a redesign. After that we’ll have a report by next December and then introduce a bill to officially change it,” explains Harr. “The problem we have is when people try to think of Nebraska they automatically think of the big red ‘N’ and that's what we're trying to fix.”
Even though not everyone may agree with the idea of changing something that’s been around for years, the main goal is to develop a new flag that garners respect and instant recognition. As Harr states, if we’re able to change our license plates every few years, why not the flag as well?
Caroline Guchu is a sophomore studying communication.