Arizona State Flag History

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Arizona was the 48th state admitted to the Union on February 12, 1912. An official state flag was adopted by the Arizona Legislature in 1917. The bill became law, even though a large group did not want the flag adopted, and Governor Thomas Campbell’s refused to sign the bill.

The field of the Arizona state flag is divided in half. The top portion contains 13 “rays” of alternating red and old gold, and the bottom half is solid blue. A copper colored star is featured in the center of the flag.

The rays represent a setting sun, and the colors, red and old gold, are meant to mimic the colors used in the Spanish flags that Coronado carried in 1540 when he visited the area that is now the state of Arizona. The number of rays, 13, represent the 13 original U.S. colonies. The copper star represents Arizona’s copper mining industry, and the blue on the bottom half of the field represents the Colorado River. The color of blue that is used is the same shade as the blue on the U.S. national flag.

According to the Arizona  State Library, Archives & Public Records, the flag was designed by Colonel Charles W. Harris in 1910 so that the Arizona Rifle Team would have a flag to display representing Arizona at the National Matches at Camp Perry in Northern Ohio. Apparently, Arizona was the only state in prior matches that did not have a flag. There are many who believe that Harris did not design the flag alone. It is said that it was co-designed by a number of others.

Executive Order 66-6, Rules for Display of the Arizona State Flag, states that “the state flag “represents the living state and is considered a living thing.” The remainder of the order basically mimics the U.S. Flag Code.

In the North American Vexillological Associations 2001 survey, Arizona’s flag ranked sixth out of the 72 flags rated from Canadian Provinces and states and territories of the United States. This gives it the prestige of being ranked in the top ten best flag designs.

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