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Alaska (U.S.)

Last modified: 2002-11-02 by rick wyatt
Keywords: alaska | competition | star | constellation | ursa major | united states |
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[Flag of Alaska] by Zeljko Heimer, 5 June 1996

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In 1959, a star was added, representing Alaska, bringing the total number of stars on the U.S. flag to 49. There were thirteen stripes representing the thirteen original colonies.

The Story of Alaska's Flag

The Alaska state flag was designed by John Bell (Benny) Benson, a thirteen year-old in an orphanage in response to a contest sponsored by the Alaska Department of the American Legion. The prize was awarded in 1927. The flag was adopted by the Territorial Legislature in May, 1927 as Alaska's official flag.

The flag is dark blue, with eight five-pointed gold stars in the shape of "the big dipper") and a larger gold star representing the pole star, Polaris.

When Alaska entered the Union in 1959, the territorial flag became the state flag. All the designs for the contest, as well as Benny's prize--a gold watch engraved with the flag--are in the Alaska State Museum in Juneau. He did also win a $1000 trip to Washington, D.C.. to present the flag to President Coolidge, but never went because first his father was ill, and then President Coolidge was out of the country, so the $1000 was put to his education instead. Benny also picked the forget-me-not as the territorial (later state) flower.

Source: Velma Moos Potter, God Flies Benny's Flag, Frontier Publishing, Seattle, 1989

John Andrew Lowe, 24 July 1995

Legal Description

Sec. 44.09.020. State flag.
The design of the official flag is eight gold stars in a field of blue, so selected for its simplicity, its originality and its symbolism. The blue, one of the national colors, typifies the evening sky, the blue of the sea and of mountain lakes, and of wild flowers that grow in Alaskan soil, the gold being significant of the wealth that lies hidden in Alaska's hills and streams. The stars, seven of which form the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear, the most conspicuous constellation in the northern sky, contains the stars which form the "Dipper," including the "Pointers"which point toward the eighth star in the flag, Polaris, the North Star, the ever constant star for the mariner, the explorer, hunter, trapper, prospector, woodsman, and the surveyor. For Alaska the northernmost star in the galaxy of stars and which at some future time will take its place as the forty-ninth star in the national emblem. The flag of the Territory of Alaska is the official flag of the state. The standard proportions and size graphically delineated herein shall be used in the manufacture of the official flag of Alaska. The stars shall be the color of natural yellow gold and the field of blue shall be of the same shade of blue used in the official manufacture of the national emblem of the United States.
Joe McMillan, 8 February 2000

State Song (about the flag)

Eight stars of gold on a field of blue
Alaska's Flag may it mean to you
The blue of the sea, the evening sky
The mountain lakes and the flow'rs near-by
The gold of the early sourdoughs dreams
The precious gold of the hills and streams
The brilliant stars in the northern sky
The "Bear," the "Dipper," and shining high
The great North Star with its steady light
O'er land and sea a beacon bright
Alaska's Flag to Alaskans dear
The simple flag of a Last Frontier

State Military Crest

The state military crest, which is the crest used in the coats of arms of units of the National Guard, as granted by the precursor organizations of what is now the Army Institute of Heraldry. The official Institute of Heraldry blazon is "The aurora borealis blended from dexter base purple through red, orange, yellow to green to chief and repeated inversely to sinister base; behind a totem pole of three figures, an eagle, a bear, and a walrus paleways affronte, all proper.
Joe McMillan, 21 April 2000

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