Delaware. Where do I begin? My only experience with Delaware was going with my brother to a Nascar race for a few consecutive years in Dover. To get there, it seemed liked you had to drive for days through rural farmland which of course isn't true. You could drive the length of Delaware in a few hours, easily, it being the second smallest state in the union. (96 miles in length.) I also know that Wilmington—a city pretty darn close to Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey— sends out a lot of bank junk mail, since it's a major financial hub. Discover, I'm looking at you. One more thing, I remember in Wayne's World both Wayne and Garth had trouble figuring out what Delaware stood for as well.
Wayne's World Chroma-key Delaware Clip:
Delaware was originally settled by the Dutch. Well, not exactly, it was originally settled by the Lenape and Nanticoke tribes then settled by the Dutch in the 16th century. The first state we've come to of the original 13 Colonies, Delaware had a state seal all the way back in 1777 and ten years later became the first state to ratify the Constitution of the United States.
The current Delaware state flag features the original seal, set in a 'buff-colored' diamond, itself sitting in the middle of a colonial blue field. Those colors were chosen to represent a uniform worn by then General, George Washington. The seal, basically a coat of arms, is quite the busy design featuring two figures ( a farmer and a soldier) along with other occupational symbols for shipping, hunting and cattle ranching split into the three sections, one for each county. The words, liberty and independence, are written on a banner at the bottom of the figures' feet. 200 years earlier those words probably had more urgency to them, though I'd argue they're more important than ever.
The Delaware State Seal / Coat of Arms:
Interesting note about the seal and a few details that don't show up on the flag. The seal has three years listed on the bottom. Originally, they were 1793, 1847, and 1907—all years when the design of the seal was altered. In June of 2004, a bunch of sixth graders got together and decided that these years were not significant and should be replace with the years 1704, 1776, and 1787. The year that Delaware established it's first General Assembly, the year The Colonies declared independence from the British of course, and the year that Delaware become the first state, respectively. Eventually, the students from Bayard Elementary School took that idea to the Legislative Hall in Dover. One by one they stated their case and by the end of the day their bill had passed unanimously. Incidentally, the student credited with leading the cause, Yaxier Torres, just graduated from Smyrna High School, in Smyrna Delaware. And because the internet is crazy, here's what his class predicted for his future, "Yaxier Torres will join the 6th season of the hit reality show The New Jersey Shore via the channel called Musical Television and then be kicked off because he isn’t really from New Jersey; but that’s okay because he’ll marry his fellow cast member who goes by the alias “Snooki.” Kids.
Seen here at the Smryna High School Prom, themed—When in Rome, is Torres. Again, this is why the Internet can be a dangerous thing.
Thank Yaxier Torres the next time you see him: (He's first on the left.)
Anyway, back to the flag. The seal, without the years and the words set on the perimeter, makes up the primary element on the flag. There's enough symbolism here for ten flags and since one of the main things this project has set to correct, are all the blue flags with state seals. Something has to give. This flag was literally designed by committee, established to design a flag for the state in what I'm calling the Great Flag Rush of the US States, 1911-1913. You won't learn about this in school though.
The Delaware State Flag:
Like a lot of the flags we've visited so far, there is a huge amount of variation from flag to flag. The standards are so loose that you can really end up with two flags that look only vaguely similar. Just so you know, here's the entirety of the flag bill.
The design of the official state flag shall be as follows: A background of colonial blue surrounding a diamond of buff in which diamond is placed the correct coat of arms of the State in the colors prescribed by law and in accordance with § 301 of this title, with the words, "December 7, 1787," to be inscribed underneath the diamond.
The official state colors, colonial blue and buff, are designated by the Textile Color Card Association of the United States, Inc., New York, as "arno blue" Cable No. 10663, and "golden beige" Cable No. 10781 respectively; the color shades having been determined by Colorimetric Specifications of the National Bureau of Standards, United States Department of Commerce, in Test No. 2, 1/140565, dated November 18, 1954, which is on file with the Delaware Public Archives, Dover, Delaware. The colors of the coat of arms and other elements of the state flag shall be the following: Husbandman, trousers of gray brown, shirt of red, hat and hilling hoe of brown; rifleman, suit of green, binding, bag and leggings of buff, hat of brown, powder flask and feather of gray; shield, frame of shaded yellow, top panel of orange, center panel of blue, lower panel of white, ox of red brown, grass and corn of green, wheat and branches underfoot of yellow, heraldric wreath to be blue and silver (twisted); ship under full sail to have a dark hull and white sails; date, December 7, 1787, to be white; cord and tassels to be blue and gold. (29 Del. C. 1953, § 506; 50 Del. Laws, c. 288, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 72 Del. Laws, c. 91, § 10.)
As you can see most of the colors are just generally described, and the few that are given cable numbers do not have modern equivalents. Even the flag above hardly represents what I would consider Colonial Blue. And of course, nobody thought of picking a typeface for the date proudly shown across the bottom. We could really help the state out by standardizing these aspects, but I want to go one step beyond that and recommend the state flag that they should by flying.
Conceptually, it's an easy choice. Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution of the United States. 5 brave days before the second state, Pennsylvania, and almost 2 and a half years before the 13th colony, Rhode Island, ratified the historical document. The was a courageous step and something—perhaps the only thing—that is flag-worthy. (You could argue that the Delaware crossing pictured far above is flag-worthy, it's just not an easy thing to make graphically flag-relevant.) Fast forward some 200 years, and the state can be proud of the fact it took the first step for the nation we have today. It's already on their license plates, so we're not treading on new territory here.
There can only be one, first:
What I'd like to recommend to the state isn't just one flag, but a system of flags. Each flag will feature a proud numeral one, but each year a newly designed numeral one will replace the old. They will be related enough that there will be no need to replace all the flags each year, but a new flag will be available to replace an old one whenever necessary. I think this will keep it fresh. After all, there are thousands of numeral styles to use and this could keep things interesting moving forward. Maybe one year they open it up to a competition (yuck), maybe one year they get a famous letterer to design 'The One'. Perhaps a famous Delawarean would be commissioned for one of the flags. The thing is, we'll end up with a simple flag system that will be unique among the states, another first, fitting for Delaware. I've taken it upon myself to design a few to kick off the idea. Are you reading this, Governor Markell?
A whole bunch of ones:
And since we have to start with one 1, here's the one I selected. I'd only ask for the future versions to keep the same color scheme, gold numerals on blue fields. This is a super simple solution for a flag, but it's the right thing to do, Delaware. Introducing your 2012 Delaware State Flag: