The Arizona State Flag has its roots in the 1910 National Rifle Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio, even before Arizona was officially a state in the Union. Camp Perry’s shooting matches began in 1907, quickly became popular, and still continue today. Ideas for the Arizona flag first developed when Arizona rifle team members noticed that many of the states competing in the matches displayed flags or emblems representing their state. The team captain, Arizona National Guard Colonel Charles Wilred Harris, suggested the idea of a flag for use at the National Rifle Matches.
Harris, along with Carl Hayden, Arizona’s first Congressional Representative, set out to designing a flag. In patriotic spirit, it was of great importance to Harris and Hayden that the Arizona flag design display historical values in both its design and colors. Nan Hayden, Carl Hayden’s wife, sewed the first flag, and it was used in the National Rifle Match in 1911.
In 1912, Harris, now Adjunct General of Arizona, designed a similar flag for use as a state flag. The Arizona State Legislature officially adopted Harris’s flag on February 17, 1917, despite Governor Thomas Campbell’s refusal to sign the bill into law.
The Arizona State Flag consists red and yellow rays on the top half, a blue bottom half, and a copper star in the middle. There are 13 red and yellow rays, symbolizing the 13 original colonies of the United States and Arizona’s 13 original counties. The red and yellow symbolize both the colors of Arizona’s beautiful sunsets. Red and yellow are also the colors on the Spanish flag flown by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and his conquistadors during their search for the Seven Cities of Cibola in 1540.
The blue bottom half of the flag represents the Liberty Blue found on the U.S. flag. The copper star in the middle of the flag represents Arizona’s copper-mining industry, which produces the largest amount of copper in the nation.
Arizona indeed has a beautiful flag, and reasons for Thomas Campbell’s refusal to accept the flag are unknown. As if to spite him, however, a 2001 poll by the North American Vexillological Association voted Arizaon’s state flag as the sixth best flag on the continent.