Chosen by readers of USA TODAY and 10Best
Kansas got its own state flag in 1927, eleven years after turning down the winner of a flag design contest staged by the Daughters of the American Revolution. The official flag includes the state seal on a blue background with a sunflower above and the state name below. The design was originally meant to be hung from the top as a banner, but it was eventually converted to a flag for ease of hanging.
On July 4, 1865, when the first cornerstone was laid at Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Michigan's state flag was the first to be unfurled. The current state flag -- the coat of arms on a field of dark blue -- is actually Michigan's third since gaining statehood, but this one seems to have stuck. The white banner at the bottom of the coat of arms sums up travel to the state: "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you."
In 1927, 13-year-old Alaskan native Benny Benson won a flag design contest, and his design would become the official state flag of Alaska when it earned statehood in 1959. The field of blue symbolizes the sky and the forget-me-not (Alaska's state flower), while the eight golden stars -- the North Star and the Dipper -- represent Alaska's position as the most northerly state and its strength.
Ohio's flag is unique in that it's the only one to take a non-rectangular shape. John Eisenmann, the flag's designer, drew inspiration from the hills and valleys of the state (triangle shapes), from the roads and rivers (stripes) and from the state itself. The nineteen stars symbolize Ohio's position as the nineteenth state, while the red circle in the middle is suggestive of a buckeye -- the state tree -- surrounded by a white letter "O" for Ohio.
The top half of the Arizona flag consists of 13 alternating red and yellow stripes -- for the 13 original colonies -- that represent Arizona's amazing sunsets. The copper star in the center symbolizes the state's position as the largest copper producer in the country. The blue field at the bottom of the flag is the same color as the blue of the United States flag.
Like many state flags, New Hampshire's shows the state seal on a field of blue, but surrounding the seal is a laurel wreath with nine stars, representing New Hampshire as the ninth state to ratify the Constitution of the United States in 1788. The ship depicted in the seal, the frigate Raleigh, was one of the first warships commissioned by the Continental Congress.
In 2011, the Bear Flag celebrated its centennial anniversary as the official flag of California. It got its start back in 1846 during an insurgency against Mexico that would come to be called the "Bear Flag Revolt." Today, the flag includes the image of a grizzly bear, a red star and the words "California Republic" over a red bar, similar to the original Bear Flag.
The Lone Star flag holds the distinction as the only state flag that was at one time a national flag as well, that of the Republic of Texas. When Texas joined the Union in 1839, the flag came with it, and the nickname "The Lone Star State" was born.
The red "C" in the center of the Colorado flag symbolizes many things -- the state's name, which came from the Spanish for "colored red"; the state's flower, the Columbine; and the state's nickname, the Centennial State. The blue, white and yellow of the flag represent the columbine flower, and the white and yellow also symbolize the state's silver and gold mining heritage. While originally designed in 1911, the state flag didn't take its present form until 1964.
New Mexico's instantly recognizable flag pays tribute to the state's American Indian heritage. Santa Fe anthropologist Dr. Harry Mera designed the red and yellow flag as part of a design contest. His inspiration? A late nineteenth century pot from the Zia pueblo he saw on display at a local museum. The Zia symbol represents many things, including the sun, seasons, directions, stages of life and the four sacred obligations: a strong body, clear mind, pure spirit and devotion community.
Colorado, Texas, California, New Hampshire round out top five
New Mexico residents can now fly their flags with more pride than ever. Readers of USA TODAY and 10Best have voted the Land of Enchantment's striking yellow and red banner into the #1 slot in our recent contest category.
The full list of winners in the 'Best State Flag' contest for 10Best Readers' Choice are as follows:
Congrats to all the winners! And thanks to our experts who made the original 20 nominations, and - of course - to the public for voting.
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