Anyone who paid attention to the recent debate over the Mississippi flag should enjoy looking at the 2,700 proposals that residents submitted for its replacement.
The state Department of Archives and History put all of them on its website Monday. The site is www.mdah.ms.gov. There is a link on the homepage to view the submissions, and they are worth a scroll. It’s evident that a lot of people took the challenge seriously and sent in some very creative work.
About 1,800 of the designs met the Legislature’s rules for the new flag — it cannot have the Confederate emblem and it must include the phrase “In God We Trust.” Another 900 designs missed one or both of those but are included on the website.
The website also allows viewers to mark up to 25 favorites. It would be fun over the coming weeks to create a separate page that displays the designs that get the most votes, even though the nine-member flag commission is not required to choose any specific entry.
A look through several hundred of the designs — a few drawn by hand, but most using graphic design software — indicates that a magnolia blossom is one of the most popular ideas for the flag. A number of designs have 20 stars to signify that Mississippi was the 20th state to join the Union. Many incorporate the state’s curvy western river boundary into the design, and others use the state seal, which includes “In God We Trust.”
One of the most clever entries includes Kermit the Frog, a teddy bear, a blues guitar and other items with Mississippi roots as the centerpiece. For true humor, one design is nothing more than a picture of the Ole Miss player who got in trouble for posing as a dog in the end zone during last year’s Egg Bowl.
A cursory review of the entries makes one thing clear: Designing an effective flag is a difficult assignment.
The Mississippi flag is even more challenging because of the controversy surrounding the flag that got retired a few weeks ago. The new design has to tread gently on those angered by that decision, while proposing a piece of art that unites people with very different opinions. Plus, they need to come up with something that has the best possible chance of being approved by voters in the November referendum.
Flag design is a mission in which the phrase “less is more” applies. A consultant told the flag commission that a good flag is easily recognizable from a distance — think the Stars and Stripes — and tiny elements in the design rarely work.
That’s what will make the “In God We Trust” requirement so interesting. What size should those words be? The design entries certainly vary, offering them in small, medium and large type. It’s one of many sticky decisions for the flag commission.
On the bright side, the commission has a lot of ideas to work with. The people put their creativity to work. Let’s hope this leads to a flag we can all be proud of.
— From The (McComb) Enterprise-Journal