Thursday, December 5, 2013

Louisiana: The Flags

The other day I was standing in the check-out line at a big-box store in Lafayette.

On the cornice at the front of the store, facing into the store, were four flags, in this order (left to right):

Credit: Sears

Yes, so I got that the first flag was the American flag and the fourth flag was the University of Louisiana flag. And I knew one of the middle flags was the state flag, but which one? And what was the remaining flag? The city of Lafayette's flag? Cajun flag? Parish (county) flag?

So seeing as how there were other people around me, I asked. The first woman said she didn't know because she'd only lived in Louisiana for two days. The cashier hadn't a clue. Among three other employees, one said she was pretty sure the pelican flag was the state flag and the one with the fleur-de-lis was the Acadiana flag.

I checked it out later online and she was right.

At first I thought, harumph, maybe this general flag ignorance is part of the allegedly dismal state of Louisiana education. But then I had to turn the tables back on myself for two reasons:
  • Isn't there a protocol that determines the order in which a facility displays flags? In other words, the national flag, then state, then ... So shouldn't I have known this protocol?
  • Also, isn't it incumbent upon me to research this stuff (something as basic as what the state flag looks like) before coming to live somewhere? 

Some notes:

The Louisiana graphic above is from the Secretary of State of Louisiana page, and it is the official flag standard. In the store, the flag was not official as evidenced by the irritatingly jarring text graphic: Union, Justice & Confidence. Yechh, that comma and ampersand - visually busy mess!

The Acadiana flag depicted above is the "official" Acadiana flag. Since Acadiana is neither an organization nor a political subdivision, I wondered who made it "official." Ah, the Louisiana state legislature did.

I like the New Mexico state flag for the simplicity of its design and for the powerful, multi-useful symbology of the zia. Both qualities make it easy to brand the state, and quite a few New Mexicans have tattoos of the zia symbol.

I've noticed in Louisiana that the fleur-de-lis serves a similar purpose as the zia - displaying a connection to a place, or better explained perhaps, to the spirit of a place.

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