116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
This month marks 100 years since Iowa adopted a state flag.
The flag you see flying at schools today is the same as it was a century ago - three vertical stripes of blue, white and red, with an eagle in the middle carrying banners that say, 'Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.”
Many other states had flags before Iowa, which had already been a state for several decades before officials ordered the creation of a state flag. After that, it took more than seven years for the people to decide whether they wanted a flag and what it would look like.
Initially, many Iowans opposed making a state flag. Some of them were alive during the Civil War, and they remembered how southerners used their state banners in their rebellion against the federal government.
After the United States entered World War I in 1917, there was a surge in the people's sense of patriotism and Iowa pride. Within a year, an unofficial version was sent to Iowa soldiers fighting in Europe. The effort was led by a women's group called Daughters of the American Revolution.
But some Iowans still opposed the idea of a state flag. One state senator read a letter from his son serving in the war, which read, 'I hold that one flag is enough for American soldiers, and that the Stars and Stripes is sufficient for all purposes.” The passage was preserved by the historical journal Annals of Iowa.
Finally in March 1921, the Iowa Legislature agreed to adopt a state flag, similar to the unofficial version sent to soldiers in World War I.
The background of the flag is borrowed from the French flag, recognizing France as an early colonizer of the land that makes up Iowa. The bald eagle shown flying in the center is in honor of the United States' national bird. The banner in the eagle's beak displays the state motto, which was adopted shortly after the state's founding in 1846.
Iowans might like our flag, but it is not universally appreciated. A survey of flag experts conducted 20 years ago found Iowa has a below-average flag, ranking 42nd among 72 state and territorial flags.