Reese: Utah Deserves a State Flag That Reflect Its Beauty

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"It is because Utah is such a beautiful and wonderful place that we need a flag to match." (Photo by Marifel Jimenez | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Isaac Reese, Opinion Writer

 

Utah is a unique state, often recognized for being the land of Mormons, green Jell-O, great skiing, fry sauce and national parks. Our state is a weird place and holds an odd spot in American history.

When we make the news, it is never for anything like the horror stories that come out of Florida. Utah’s most recent national headlines highlight a bill to decriminalize polygamy, U.S. Sen. Romney breaking the party line by voting to convict President Trump and Governor Herbert’s recall of condoms adorned with Utah-themed sexual innuendos. If I wasn’t from Utah, this would sound like a Parks & Recreation episode. I can imagine Leslie Knope feuding with the Pawnee Health Department and rival city council members over cuts in funding for public sex ed. These kinds of scandals could only come out of Utah.

Our unique culture comes from our population, which sets us apart from any other state. Yet, for such an oddball place, our flag does not express our personality. Utah’s flag is an S.O.B. – a “seal on a bedsheet.” Our flag is the state seal on a blue background and blends in with the sea of blue that makes up other U.S. state flags. Navy blue makes up 80% of U.S. state flags, which is 40 states.

This lumps us in the likes of states such as Connecticut, Idaho, Kentucky, New York and Virginia. Each of these state flags are navy blue with their state seal in the center, something that people would look at and roll their eyes saying “I’ve seen like a million of those.” Other state flags do not have this problem. For example, California has one of the most recognizable state flags in the U.S. (it even inspired a marketing campaign by Pac Sun distinct to California aesthetics). All you have to see is that bear and you will think “California.”

This is why State Representative Stephen Handy’s bill, H.B. 250 should be passed by the state legislature. If passed, Handy’s bill would create a review commission to review the current state flag and determine how Utah should change it to better reflect the state — which sounds like a dream job to me.

I haven’t always felt that way. Growing up, especially during my teenage years, I used to loathe being from Utah. I spent my high school years clamoring to attend a university somewhere, anywhere else. I used to see Utah as a backwards, inversion-suffering hellhole. (Though I guess the inversion part is true — Utah legislators, you should probably get on fixing that soon.)

However, Utah has a weird power to make you fall in love with it. My favorite days in Utah are the ones in May when the days are starting to become longer. These days, you can wander around Sugarhouse Park with friends in the evening and watch the sunset over the distant Oquirrh Mountains paint the sky with oranges, pinks, yellows and purples. This beauty is astounding, yet it is hardly all that Utah has to offer.

Utah has a variety of breathtaking views to draw inspiration from, like our snow-covered Wasatch front, ancient red arches and otherworldly salt flats. Our culture can also inform a new design — we are the state of pioneers and honeybees, where bison roam free on Antelope Island and Disney films iconic TV movies like “High School Musical.” It is one of the few places where a vibrant LGBTQ+ community clashes and meshes with religiously conservative suburbia. There are so many things about Utah to love and they can be used to create a new symbol for our state.

Flags are a symbol. Sometimes flags are homages to pride, resistance, hate or perseverance. Some people feel passionate about their flags while others couldn’t care less. Either way, flags represent the values of a place or group. They always mean something, even if you don’t personally see the meaning behind it. There is a reason people display them up in the sky, in their windows, on doors and anywhere to catch a viewer’s eye. It is because Utah is such a beautiful and wonderful place that we need a flag to match. Our flag should reflect the spirit of our state, and Handy’s bill should pass so we can find a state flag that does that.

 

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@theisaacreese