Louisiana Vexilology

This is the state flag of Louisiana:


It is not a good flag. Not the least of which because it does not even have the instantly recognizable symbol of Louisiana, the fleur de lis. Given that the fleur de lis represents French Louisiana and not the entirety of Louisiana, it’s forgivable that the flag is not just that, but stylistically that would be a nice looking flag. Better than the pelican, anyway. But it’s just the pelican. The state bird. Feeding its children. Heartwarming, I guess, but most states would kill for a symbol like the fleur de lis to put on their flag.

What’s really weird is that it’s not like Louisiana can’t do flags. New Orleans has a flag that’s okay. And Acadiana, a region of Louisiana, has a flag that is darn near perfect:


The kicker is that the Acadiana flag was designed before the state flag of Louisiana. Sort of. A variation of the pelican flag was in use since the Civil War, but they updated the design in 1912, 1991, 2006, and 2010. So it’s not like they just haven’t gotten around to doing anything about the mediocre flag. They have just stubbornly refused to actually change it into something worthwhile.

A good flag is one that you see everywhere. Maryland isn’t exactly a jingoistic state, but they do love their flag. Washington DC has the pride of the slighted, and use their flag liberally. Texas gave itself a nickname based on its flag. Alaska and New Mexico used their great flags liberally.

I have spent a fair amount of time in RL Louisiana, and I never see their flag anywhere. I see the Acadiana flag a lot more often. That’s an indication that their flag is better than the state flag! That is what a flag is supposed to be.

{This post was originally published at Hit Coffee}

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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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11 thoughts on “Louisiana Vexilology

  1. You are ignoring, or greaty glossing over, that since medieval times the pelican carries great symbolism by itself

    In medieval Europe, the pelican was thought to be particularly attentive to her young, to the point of providing her own blood by wounding her own breast when no other food was available. As a result, the pelican came to symbolise the Passion of Jesus and the Eucharist, and usurped the image of the lamb and the flag. A reference to this mythical characteristic is contained for example in the hymn by Saint Thomas Aquinas, “Adoro te devote” or “Humbly We Adore Thee”, where in the penultimate verse he describes Christ as the “loving divine pelican, able to provide nourishment from his breast”.Elizabeth I of England adopted the symbol, portraying herself as the “mother of the Church of England”. Do observe that the Louisiana pelican is indeed feeding its blood to its young.

    So it’s not that they just put the state bird in the flag and that was all. Louisiana’s flag claims that the state is the mother of its peoples.

    As an aside, it used to be in the past that [cultured] people were able to understand all kinds of symbolisms in altar paintings, flags, portraits, and even flowers. It’s a pity that we have lost that sensibility.


    • You make me sad to write this, though in a way you couldn’t possibly have anticipated. My mother was very good at exactly this art, and she enjoyed going to museums and interpreting all of these kinds of embedded symbols in the art, especially from Renaissance Italy, to my never-ending amazement. She would have been seventy years old today and it’s weird how sometimes reminders like that just pop up out of nowhere.

      That’s way more than you wanted to have laid down with your observation, I know; point being, I’m sure mom would have known this about the pelican although if she ever told me my mind was probably still reeling from all the rest of what was on offer. It’s a good memory, and I thank you for rekindling it.


    • I did understand the castle! One of the other intrastate regions is West Florida, which is a different part of its Spanish history. The West Florida (Bonnie Blue) flag is close to the informal flag of the fictional state of Deltona in Trumanverse.

      The significance of the Pelican is interesting, though not sufficient to overturn my opinion of the flag as a whole. Could be incorporated into a better flag, though.


  2. Love it or hate it, Looseean has personality. I spent a lot of time there as a kid – I loved parts of it, hated others – but they gots character.


    • Well, it’s a symbol of Florence, though not of the Medici particularly. The Medici sigil is a shield with several balls on it, and the family felt no need to be consistent about the number or pattern of those balls over time. The Florentines began using the fleur de lis before the Medici were prominent, but confusingly (for us moderns; I’m sure it made perfect sense back in the day) one proclaimed allegiance to the Guelph or Ghibelline faction by displaying either a white fleur de lis on a red field, or a red fleur de lis on a white field.


  3. California’s been doing pretty well by its flag recently, too. I rather like our grizzly bear logo and the reference to California’s eight or so days as a nominally independent nation. Although we’ve not had actual grizzly bears in the state for decades now and the independence thing was over before half of the people who lived in California had even heard about it.

    I must in the same breath admit that I’m a bit horrified at what a redesign of the California flag might be, especially if consigned to a committee of some sort. This would have made for a wonderful photoshop contest back in the glory days of FARK.com.

    There’s also some states that do well with their shapes as seen on maps. Texas most prominently, but Louisiana, Florida, California, Alaska, and Wisconsin (that I can think of) all have distinctive map shapes that seem to wind up prominently featured on clothing, product advertisements, and a variety of other regalia.


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