OPINION: Don't Mess With History, Leave the NH State Flag Alone
A committee on Tuesday recommended to send a proposal to study redesigning the New Hampshire state flag to legislative purgatory for the 2018 session.
They made the right choice.
Why do we need a new flag? What’s wrong with the one we have now?
When was the last time you really looked at the state flag?
In case it’s been a while and you don’t have one handy, here’s a quick refresher. The state flag of New Hampshire consists of the state seal centered on a blue background surrounded by laurel leaves and nine stars. Those nine stars represent New Hampshire being the ninth state to ratify the proposed Constitution on June 21, 1788, which then made it the law of the fledgling nation.
The flag, adopted by the New Hampshire State Legislature in 1909, has only been changed once and that was in 1931.The state seal in the center of the flag depicts the sun rising over the Atlantic Ocean, the date 1776 in celebration of the Declaration of Independence and the frigate USS Raleigh.
The Raleigh, a 32 gun frigate, was the first of 13 warships sponsored by the Continental Congress, which laid the foundation for a new American navy. Her keel was laid on March 21, 1776, on Withers Island (now known as Badger’s Island) on the Piscataqua River in Kittery, Maine, at a boatyard owned by future New Hampshire Congressman and Gov. John Langdon.
When launched two months later on May 21, it featured a full-length figure of Sir Walter Raleigh on the bow.After some early military successes in the Atlantic, along the coast of Africa and in the West Indies, the Raleigh’s story took an unexpected twist. After being pursued from Portsmouth up along the coast of Maine in a seven-hour running battle with two British warships, the Raleigh was run ashore on an island 20 miles from the Penobscot River and set afire to avoid capture.
There was one problem.
The British managed to extinguish the fire and refloat the Raleigh. After repairs, the ship was commissioned into the Royal Navy as HBHS Raleigh. (For those not up on British Naval jargon, HBHS stands for His or Her Britannic Majesty's Ship). The Raleigh’s design was so much admired by the British that they applied it in their new ship construction.
The Raleigh served in the British Navy until decommissioned on June 10, 1781, and then sold in July 1783.
So as you can see, there’s a lot of New Hampshire history going on in our state flag.
Somehow replacing that with images of the Old Man of the Mountain, the state bird (Purple Finch), state tree (White Birch), state vegetable (White Potato) or state freshwater fish (Brook Trout) don’t seem to do justice to all those people and events that helped get us here today.
Let's hope the full House agrees with the committee when the HB 1242 comes before them March 1.
And at least now, when you look at our state flag, you know a lot more about it!