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What Is the History of Arizona's State Flag?

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  • Written By: Donna Tinus
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 26 November 2016
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The history of Arizona's state flag began in 1910, before Arizona was even a member of the union. Colonel Charles W. Harris and Carl Hayden, Arizona's representative to Congress, designed a flag for the Arizona National Guard to use in competition at the National Rifle Matches. After Col. Harris became the adjutant general of Arizona, he designed a similar flag, which was adopted as Arizona's state flag in 1917.

In 1910,the Arizona Rifle Team members were dismayed when they realized that all the other rifle teams had a flag to bring to the rifle matches at Camp Perry, Ohio. They asked Col. Harris for a flag to take to the events with them and he fulfilled their request with a flag his wife, Nan D. Hayden, sewed. He and Hayden had designed a flag they believed represented Arizona's part in the history of the United States.

In 1912, Colonel Harris decided to slightly alter the design of the rifle team's flag. He designed and proposed Arizona's state flag to then-Governor Campbell, hoping he would approve. At this point, Harris was the adjutant general of Arizona.

Colonel Harris' new design for Arizona's state flag featured the colors blue, yellow, red, and gold. The liberty blue shade on the lower half of Arizona's state flag is the same blue used in the United States flag. The copper and red sun rays on the upper half of the state flag represent the setting western sun.

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He chose 13 sun rays to represent the 13 original colonies of the United States. The red and yellow rays were chosen because red and yellow were the colors that were flown by the 1540 Spanish conquistadors who were searching for the seven cities of Cibola. The copper star in the middle of Arizona's state flag is a symbol of Arizona's abundant copper mines. Arizona is the country's leading producer of copper.

Governor Campbell refused to sign the bill designating Harris' flag as the new Arizona state flag. Many of the citizens didn't approve of it, also. Despite this, on 17 February 1917, the flag was adopted by the Arizona State Legislature as Arizona's state flag.

The flag is just one of many official state symbols for Arizona. The state colors are blue and gold. Arizona's state flower is the white blossom of the saguaro, which is a large cactus. Arizona's state tree is the palo verde, which means "green stick."

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