State Flags – Georgia

IMG_20150309_135339_649Georgia is the fourth state into the union. It became a state on January 2, 1788, right after the new year. Georgia is known as the Peach State due to a large amount of peaches that grow there (peaches became the official state fruit in 1995).

In my research, I learned that Georgia originally had a different state flag. Several versions, to be exact, but the most well-known version is the 1956-2001 flag.

The first flag consisted of the Confederate flag along with a blue background with the Great Seal of the State of Georgia. However, after flying for 45 years, the Georgia state flag was changed. The Confederate flag on the first state flag was controversial, reminding the people of Georgia of their darker days in history. The request to change the flag dates as far back as the 1980s. The request was to return to the pre-1956 design which was much like the then-current flag but with three stripes: two red, and one white.

The bill for a new flag was finally passed in January 2001. The new flag that would be flown over Georgia was designed by Cecil Alexander, an Atlanta based architect. The new flag consisted of a blue background along with the seal of the State of Georgia in a gold color. Around the seal are 13 white stars to represent the original 13 colonies. Underneath is a gold ribbon labeled “Georgia’s History” with five flags. The first flag is the original stars and stripes with just thirteen stars, next is one of the coat of arms designs. Then comes the 1920s flag, followed by the 1956-2001 flag, and a 2001-2003 version. Last but not least is the current flag of Georgia.

This 2001 incarnation of the state flag flew for just two years until 2003. While some were pleased with the new design, others were still not satisfied. Some felt it was an insult to their history and heritage. Finally, in May 2003, Governor Sonny Perdue signed House Bill No. 380 into law. The 2003 flag is reminiscent of the flag from the 1920s but the lower red stripe is longer and the blue is a little cut back as a result. This flag has finally won the favor of the people of Georgia.

Travel: Although Georgia is a coastal state, there are two islands to which you can actually drive: Tybee Island and Jekyll Island.

In addition to peaches, peanuts are also grown in this state.


Flag of the State of Georgia

The current flag of Georgia.

The adopted flag of the U.S. state of Georgia is the newest state flag in the United States and has a very interesting story behind its development. Adopted just over eight years ago, on May 8, 2003, the flag is based off of the design of the Confederate States of America’s first national banner.

The current flag of Georgia, like the U.S. flag, is rectangular and includes a blue field in the upper left corner. The blue field includes the state of Georgia’s coat of arms and thirteen white stars. The coat of arms consists of three pillars, which represent the three branches of state and federal government: executive, legislative, and judicial. An American soldier with a drawn sword, dressed in a Revolutionary War uniform, stands between the pillars, symbolizing the state’s courage to defend the constitution.

Two phrases also appear in the blue field. “Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation,” Georgia’s state motto, appear on a banner around the pillars. “In God We Trust,” is written below the seal, but these words are not actually part of the official Georgia seal. The thirteen stars around the seal signify Georgia’s inclusion in the original thirteen U.S. colonies.

The rest of the flag consists of three horizontal stripes: the top and bottom stripes are red and the middle stripe is white.

Controversy over the state of Georgia’s previous flag, which was used from 1956 until 2001, ultimately led to the flag’s repeal and the design of a new flag. The flag adopted in 1956 prominently featured the Southern Cross, a prominent symbol of the Confederate States of America. Although proponents of the flag claimed that the Georgia state flag was designed to commemorate the Civil War Centennial, others took offense. The flag was adopted at the height of the American Civil Rights Movement, and white supremacy groups were using the Confederate flag as a symbol of racial protest.

Although pressure to adopt a new state flag increased throughout the second half of the twentieth century—especially before the 1996 Olympic Games, which were held in Atlanta—the flag was not replaced until 2001. In that year, the state legislature adopted a replacement flag that featured Georgia’s state seal above smaller versions of Georgia’s previous flag. The current flag of Georgia was adopted in 2003.

Flag of Georgia

The flag of Georgia was adopted on January 25, 2004. The flag known as the “five-cross flag” because it features five St. George’s crosses: one cross stretches across the flag’s white background and one small cross appears in each quadrant of the flag.

The flag of Georgia is based on the single St. George’s cross flag, which pays tribute Saint George, a Christian soldier, priest, and martyr.  He is one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic, Anglican, Eastern, Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox churches.  According to legend, St. George saved the King of Silene’s daughter from a plague-bearing dragon that the king’s daughter was sent to slay herself. Saint George tamed the dragon and brought the beast into the king’s village where Saint George told the townspeople that he would slay the dragon if everyone agreed to become baptized Christians.  The townspeople consented, Saint George slayed the dragon, and the king built a church on the site of the dragon’s death.

The single St. George’s cross flag is probably one of the oldest flags in the world, and was used in Georgia by King Vakhtang Gorgasali in the fifth century. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the “five-cross flag” was used under the reign of Queen Tamar of Georgia and George V of Georgia, respectively. According to medieval tradition, the five crosses represent the five Holy Wounds of Christ.

After the medieval era, the “five-cross flag” was not used and many other versions of the Georgia flag were developed. In the twentieth century, the Democratic Republic of Georgia flew a red rectangular flag with two short horizontal stripes—one black and one white—in the upper left corner. This flag was used from 1918 until 1921 and from 1990 until 2004.

When Georgia was under Soviet rule and known as the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic (1921-1990), the country used three different communist flags. Each flag was red and included either the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic’s name or the hammer and sickle icon.