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Famous Flag Images
Last modified: 2011-06-10 by phil nelson
Keywords: delacroix | iwo jima | everest | princess diana | westminster palace |
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Flags at the North Pole
Source: Library of Congress American Memory Collection
According to a letter of 9 December 1909 from Peary to Edward Trenchard of the U.S. Navy League, "The flags displayed at the Pole were displayed on poles consisting of a tent pole and the shafts of the ice lances, one of which was carried on each sledge.
The five flags are, from left to right in the photograph:
- Navy League of the United States: Held by the Inuit Ooqueah. The flag, according to Peary's letter to Trenchard cited above, was provided by the ladies of the League. Since Annin & Co., the large New York flag company, is known to have provided flags for the Peary expedition, I have followed Annin's 1914 wholesale catalogue for the design of this flag: white with a yellow border and the Navy League emblem on the center--a blue disk with a yellow anchor surrounded by the white letters U, S, N, and L. However, I should note that the flag in the Peary black and white photos is a light shade of gray, and that the hand-colored version of the photograph that was prepared in 1910 for Peary's The North Pole: Its Discovery shows the flag as light blue with a yellow border and a copper-colored disk.
Delta Kappa Epsilon: Held by the Inuit Ootah; the flag of Peary's fraternity as an undergraduate at Bowdoin College in Maine. It is a vertical tricolor of light blue, yellow, and red with a lion rampant on the center stripe, although the rendering of the lion may have been somewhat different. This flag also appears in the Annin catalogue. After his return, Peary was feted at a dinner given by the DKE Club of New York and displayed this flag there.
United States: Held by Peary's long-time assistant and comrade, Matthew Henson. Peary wrote of this flag, "We planted five flags at the top of the world. The first one was a silk American flag which Mrs. Peary gave me fifteen years ago. That flag has done more traveling in high latitudes than any other ever made. I carried it wrapped about my body on every one of my expeditions northward after it came into my possession, and I left a fragment of it at each of my successive 'farthest norths'.... By the time it actually reached the Pole, it was somewhat worn and discolored. A broad diagonal section of this ensign would now mark the farthest goal of earth--the place where I and my dusky companions stood.... In a space between the ice blocks of a pressure ridge, I deposited a glass bottle containing a diagonal strip of my flag and records." An off-white diagonal band was sewn in place of the section Peary left at the Pole.
The U.S. flag with the diagonal band seemed to have been something of an obsession with Peary; a couple of sketches of this flag appear in is notebooks (at the National Archives, one dated April 7, the day after reaching the pole with the note "Flag with diagonal white bar to be my personal flag."
Other entries refer to using the design on his letterhead, seal, and as a trademark to authenticate "all N.P. [North Pole] articles." A reproduction of this flag was made by Mrs. Peary for the explorer to display on the lecture circuit and is now in the collection of the Maine State Museum, complete with the patches on the areas where the various fragments were removed from the original; see State of Maine Archives).
- Peace Flag: Held by the Inuit Egingwah. Often described as the flag of the Daughters of the American Revolution, or as the DAR peace flag, Peary refers to it as the "'World's Ensign of Liberty and Peace,' with its red, white and blue in a field of white." The photograph bears out that it is not the DAR flag (a vertical triband of light blue, white, and light blue with the society insignia on the center). Since the design of the flag had nothing to do with the DAR, it was presumably provided to Peary by the society, since Peary's notes for March 28 do refer to a "D.A.R. flag," and he wrote after the expedition to the DAR discussing a flag he had displayed for them at the pole. Again, on the assumption that the flag was produced by Annin & Co., I've followed the pattern in their catalogue (granted that it was issued five years later), which includes the inscription in gold Old English lettering "Peace among all Nations" across the upper part of the white border. I've been unable to find a photograph of Peary's flag that is clear enough to tell for certain whether such lettering was present; it may well not have been. A circa US peace flag circa 1891, without the writing, by Rick Wyatt, is already on FOTW.
- "Red Cross" Flag: Held by the Inuit Seeglo. This one is a mystery. It is invariably referred to by Peary as a Red Cross flag, yet it clearly appears in the photographs as a dark field with a white (or very light) Maltese cross. The hand-colored photo in Peary's book shows it red with a white cross, apparently the same as the modern Maltese civil ensign. It is much smaller than the other flags present at the Pole. I had thought that perhaps the American Red Cross at the time used a flag other than the familiar Geneva Convention flag, but a look at an on-line exhibition of Red Cross flags indicates not.
Joe McMillan, 13 July 2008, citing a 2 January 2004 post
Raising the US Flag on Iwo Jima
The allies stages some wonderful propaganda photos, such as the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima. Chances are (like the Iwo Jima photo) that the original
flag raising wasn't photographed, simply because it was too dangerous, and a "staged" flag-raising for the cameras was then performed later.
In high school a friend of mine told me that his father raised the flag on Iwo Jima. I thought he was pulling my leg but went along with the gag. Which guy in the statue is he? I asked. No, he replied the statue was the second raising. Dad put up the first. I continued to think he was just spinning a yarn until a few years later during the 25th anniversary of the raising the local TV stations interviewed a "local man who raised the flag on Iwo Jima" It was my friends father! OK, I thought, he wasn't pulling my leg after all.
Here's the scoop. The first flag raised was just a small flag one of the Marines was carrying (probably about 5 feet in length). This act was photographed (which is how Mr. Lindberg, my friend's father, is able to verify his claim). Later the Marines sent the famous group up to raise a larger flag. So yes, it was the second raising, but not for the express purpose of taking the picture.
Nathan Bliss, 01 August 1996
First ascent of Everest
New Zealand's most famous flag photo is probably of the planting of the flags of (from memory) China, India, Nepal, and Britain's flags on top of Mt. Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953.
James Dignan, 02 August 1996
Edmund Hillary (in a striking contrast to many subsequent climbers) did not choose to place himself and his country's flag on the top of the world in the photograph. The flags, held by Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, were (top to bottom) the United Nations, UK, Nepal, India.
Per Kolmodin, 05 October 1999
Flags in Paintings from the French Revolution
One painting from the French revolution pictures Marianne (?) leading the revolutionaries and holding the French tricolour.
Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People with "Marianne" as a personification of the French Republic came somewhat later IIRC - in any case being a republican symbol she wouldn't have been appropriate as the 1830 revolution the painting commemorates replaced the Bourbon dynasty with the Orleans dynasty but kept the monarchy. Good painting though - Delacroix really knew his stuff.
An image of La Liberté guidant le peuplecan be found at the WebMuseum (widely mirrored).
Talking about French revolutions and flags. I've just finished reading a book about the Paris Commune of 1871. The Communards used the plain red flag, the French tricolour being associated with the provisional government at Versailles which suppressed the Commune. Apparently strips torn from Communard red flags became prized relics in 20th century Communist political mythology and one was taken into space by the cosmonauts of Voskhod 1 in 1964!
Red Flag on the Reichstag
The photo shows a young soldier hoisting a red flag on top of the Reichstag and two officers looking at him, and behind, on the street some tanks and a car, and a tram. On the photo the flag is not the one described in FlagFax, it is plain red with the star and hammer and sickle, but without any text. There could be several reasons for that:
- The side of the flag shown on the photo is the reverse of the flag from FlagFax. Maybe the reverse had no inscription.
- The flag in FlagFax, i.e., the one in the Central Museum of the Armed Forces in Moscow, is fake (anything is possible dealing with Soviet propaganda, isn't it?)
- The flag on the photo is fake - that is highly possible, since the photo itself is a fake, made a few days after the actual event. But as far as I know the people on the photo are the same as those who hoisted the flag for the first time, and therefore it is possible that the flag is the same.
Any further evidence? The photograph was later used in the film 'Battle for Berlin', and is fairly well known and published in many places.
Željko Heimer, 31 July 1997
A Norwegian newspaper, Dagbladet, carried an interview with the Russian photographer Yevgeny Khaldei some weeks ago. Khaldei is depicted holding a large copy of the Red flag on the Reichstag photo. Khladei is credited with taking the picture. Here are the main points concerning the flag:
Khaldei told the newspaper the flag was made by his uncle, who stitched the hammer, sickle and star on to a red table cloth taken from the TASS office in Moscow. Khaldei was then on a short stay in Moscow, but soon returned to the front. On 2 May 1945 Khaldei ordered the three soldiers in his company up to the roof of the Reichstag. Various arrangements were tried before the final famous picture was made. The day after the picture arrived in Moscow. However, a month later Khaldei was ordered to fix the picture because the soldier supporting the one holding the flag had two watches on his arm!
Jan Oskar Engene, 01 August 1996
The Royal standard that draped Princess Diana's casket is a personal flag used by members of the British Royal family that aren't entitled to distinctive flags in their own right. It was adopted by the Windsor family in 1917. The flag has a white border with 10 ermine tails laid out quarterly. The flag is divided into quarters and the blue quarter represents the Irish kingdom. The yellow quarter represents the Scottish kingdom and the red quarters represent the English kingdom. Wales is not represented as it was not a kingdom when the flag was adopted.
Mark Sensen, 27 September 1997
According to "Flags of all Nations" published by the British Ministry of Defence (I have the 1989 edition), the flag is the "Standard for other members of the Royal Family"--other here means for members of the Royal family who do not have their own standard (i.e. other than the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen Mother, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, Prince Edward, the Princess Royal and Princess Margaret; as far as I know Diana never had a separate standard)
Norman M. Martin, 01 September 1997