We don’t get to Write Our Story here in Aberdeen anymore, but at least we get to help write our flag.
As part of the taxpayer-funded city-rebranding contract that she got once we established that letting Mayor Travis Schaunaman bid for it really would be corrupt, Councilwoman-Elect Tiffany Langer gives us these three designs from which to choose to embanner the Hub City:
Langer prefaces her designs with her thoughts and those of the North American Vexillogical Association, “the largest organization of flag enthusiasts and scholars in the world, promoting excellence in vexillology and camaraderie among those interested in flags since 1967.”
Vexillology, where have you been all my life?
Hey, far be it from me to criticize people for having hobbies.
Langer says she followed these vexillogical guidelines to produce our three choices:
- Keep It Simple. The flag should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory.
- Use Meaningful Symbolism. The flag’s images, colors, or patterns should relate to what it symbolizes.
- No Lettering or Seals. Never use writing of any kind or an organization’s seal.
- Be Distinctive or Be Related. Avoid duplicating other flags, but use similarities to show connections [Tiffany Langer, Aberdeen flag vote webpage, Aberdeen Downtown Association, retrieved 2020.06.12].
And she explains her color scheme:
The yellow star represents the sun; an integral part of growth for Aberdeen and in agriculture. Growth is also reflected within the community via Economic and Employment opportunities.
The deep blue symbolizes the strength and prosperity of Aberdeen’s education system, community, & business sector. The continued focus on retail, trade, healthcare, and manufacturing will change the game for years to come in Aberdeen.
The blue sky welcomes you to Aberdeen and a wealth of opportunity. Mimicking the blue of the South Dakota State Flag, the flags embrace the ideals of the state while carving out its own unique image amongst the cities and towns of South Dakota.
The white symbolizes Aberdeen’s rich history as a railroad hub, as well as a tie in with Aberdeen, Scotland, which Aberdeen was named. The “Hub City” was born of the confluence of railroads and highways and serves as a center of economic activity in the region.
Aberdeen is changing the game with its open agriculture and recreational spaces as represented by the green. The city serves as a center for hunting, fishing, and a wide variety of outdoor recreation [Langer, retrieved 2020.06.12].
These explanations vex us with illogic.
Evidently the light-blue echoing the South Dakota flag is only important enough to make one design.
Neither our agriculture spaces (which are brown, black, or white, not green, for nine months of the year) nor our recreation spaces represent any sort of green game-changing; they are the same game Aberdeen has been playing for decades.
But I’ve already delayed my breakfast more minutes than I should thinking about which of these flags will be least offensive flapping below the string of other flags on our already overburdened flagpoles (below the U.S. and S.D. flag, but above the POW-MIA banner, right?) so let’s vote:
#3’s crop circles lack symmetry. If we’re going to invite Martians to land here (which I’m o.k. with), we should invite them to park in an orderly fashion.
#1 will take too much time for kids to draw. 24 little star points in the center, then another eight on the yellow, then another eight outside that? Come on.
Pick #2. Kids can draw it with eight quick swipes along a ruler and three crayons, and then they’re done and off to long division and cookies and other more important things. The second design resembles a star quilt, thus acknowledging the Dakota people from whom we stole this land and representing our true heritage of treachery and genocide. (And just so you know I’m not leaving anyone out, Aberdeen’s racists can still fill in the white diagonal bars with stars and paint “Schaunaman” and “Novstrup” over the big green fields, the same way they deface the Star-Spangled Banner with “Trump” to symbolize their ignorance, bigotry, and lack of respect for their neighbors.)
Update 08:51 CDT: Jim Ragatz notes on the Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce FB page that Aberdeen already has a flag, designed by volunteers in an Exchange Club contest, probably back in the 1980s:
Plow, yellow people shaking hands, train, courthouse dome, “Founded 1881”, and obligatory sprigs of wheat. Not simple, but kids learn something about Aberdeen by drawing it.
And I still haven’t eaten breakfast.