Last modified: 2011-12-02 by rick wyatt
Keywords: hampton roads | virginia |
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image by Jim Babcock, FOTW standardized by António Martins-Tuválkin
The flag of Hampton Roads, Virginia, was created in 1998 in a highly public process sponsored by the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and Hampton Roads Partnership. From over 1,000 designs submitted by high school students in a regional contest, a jury appointed by the region’s mayors selected three finalists that were voted on by the general public through the media. The flag is named for one of the finest natural harbors in the world and the surrounding metropolitan area of the same name. Gateway to Southeastern Virginia, Hampton Roads includes among its sixteen municipalities--symbolized by the flag’s stars--such famous cities as Norfolk, Williamsburg, Newport News, Hampton, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Suffolk and the country’s largest tourist city, Virginia Beach. The original name, Southampton Roadstead, was given in the early 1600s by the royal governor in honor of Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, an energetic sponsor of Virginia colonization (and principal patron of William Shakespeare). The nautical term roadstead, meaning a safe anchorage, evokes the area’s great history as a naval base, port, and center of shipbuilding. Renowned research facilities in aerospace, particle physics, and oceanography, together with tourism, higher education, health care, and high tech manufacturing, characterize the area’s modern economy. Its famous museums and performing groups make Hampton Roads the arts capital of Virginia. The new flag is itself historic as it is the first flag ever created for a metropolitan region of the United States.
The symbolism of the flag: The blue panel evokes the predominantly maritime and naval character of the Hampton Roads region, which is the nation’s primary naval base on the Eastern Seaboard, the East Coast’s second largest seaport, and the country’s primary center of shipbuilding and ship repair. The green panel stands for the region’s land-based agriculture, industry, and arts. The white wavy line represents the sand and surf that help make the region one of the nation’s most visited tourist destinations - from Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown to Norfolk’s Chrysler Museum and the famous resort area at Virginia Beach. The sixteen white stars symbolize the region’s cities and counties. The stars are displayed in a circle, the classic symbol of unity, and they all point to the center to represent the aspiration for regional cooperation. The flag as a whole stands for the sense of community shared by the region’s 1.6 million residents and its motto, “Hampton Roads—where Virginia meets the sea.”
Jim Babcock, 22 December 1998