Fun With Red Flags

The topic of flags has caught my interest recently. One in particular. This interest was not necessarily spawned by watching “Sheldon Cooper’s Fun With Flags” on the Big Bang Theory, but that can’t hurt.

My curiosity was with the first version of Oklahoma’s state flag, which at one point became known as the “Red Rag of Sedition”. You have to admit that sounds weirdly intriguing and somehow, today, even apropos. This flag became official in 1911 and flew until 1925 when according to the Red Dirt Report website: “reactionary elements in the state began to see the red flag in a negative light, associating it with Bolshevism and Communism and the red flag used during the Russian Revolution in 1917. This was also around the time the Socialist Party - once quite strong in Oklahoma - began to fall out of favor, particularly during the final year of World War I.”

Also, there was the fact that apparently, in Oklahoma, flying a red flag could land you in the state pen for 10 years or so. Check out this discussion of red flags in Oklahoma on Wikipedia. Oh, and there’s this: the 46-star flag was also not popular due to the association with red flags hung on homes to indicate quarantines for smallpox and Spanish influenza. Talk about “Fun With Flags”!

This first state flag was a red field and in the center was a white star with the numerals 46 in blue; because Oklahoma was the 46th state and thus the 46th star on the star spangled banner. “Kentucky native Ruth D. Clement, who moved to Oklahoma City shortly before statehood came up with the simple, straightfoward and brilliant design. Two years later, in 1913, the red 46-star flag was delivered to Washington D.C. aboard a train to be present during the inauguration of Pres. Woodrow Wilson.” — The Red Dirt Report.

As fellow Okie, Paul Harvey used to say on his radio broadcast: “And now you know (pause for dramatic effect) the REST of the story.”