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Iowa (U.S.)

Last modified: 2024-03-16 by rick wyatt
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[Flag of Iowa] image by Mario Fabretto, 24 February 1998

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In 1847, a star was added, representing Iowa, bringing the total number of stars on the U.S. flag to 29. There were thirteen stripes representing the thirteen original colonies.

Legal Description

Code of Iowa

1B.1 Specifications of state flag. The banner designed by the Iowa society of the Daughters of the American Revolution and presented to the state is hereby adopted as the state flag for use on all occasions where a state flag may be fittingly displayed. The design consists of three vertical stripes of blue, white, and red, the blue stripe being nearest the staff and the white stripe* being in the center. On the central white stripe is depicted a spreading eagle bearing in its beak blue streamers on which is inscribed the state motto, "Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain" in white letters, with the word "Iowa" in red letters below the streamers.
*Note: On the original design, the white stripe was about equal to the sum of the others

Joe McMillan, 12 February 2000

History of the Iowa State Flag


Knoxville is home of Iowa flag

In 1998 the dream came true and this plaque was placed on the south side of the Marion County Courthouse in honor of Dixie Cornell Gebhardt.

March 29, 1996 marked the 75th anniversary of the Iowa state flag. A monument to honor the flag, and Dixie Cornell Gebhardt, a Knoxville native and designer of the flag, was erected at that time at 217 S. Second Street in Knoxville, now the home of Jacobsen Travel. It was determined by the Iowa Sesquicentennial Commission that the site was the home of Gebhardt when she designed the state flag in 1917.

Prior to becoming an official state flag, Gebhardt's design was an Iowa regimental banner, a Daughters of the American Revolution project, and was approved by Governor William L. Harding and the Iowa State Council of Defense in May, 1917. At that time, Iowa's guardsmen were doing military duty along the Mexican border, and had no state banner to signify their regiment, as had the other state regiments serving there. The governor ordered a banner be sent to the men, and was told that Iowa had no state banner. He ordered a design be chosen as soon as possible and Gebhardt's was chosen from several submitted. It is believed that Gebhardt had been working on a state flag design as a DAR project for eight years before it was adopted as the regimental banner. The Iowa General Assembly adopted the design as the official state flag on March 29, 1921.

Full of symbolism Gebhardt chose the colors of the Iowa State Flag for historical reasons. Iowa was under French rule twice before becoming a state. It was annexed formally by France in 1682, ceded to Spain in 1762, and returned to France in 1800. In 1803, it passed to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Iowa's flag colors, similar to France's own national flag, were chosen to signify France's part in what is now Iowa. The colors also have another deeper significance, as well. White was chosen to symbolize the unwritten page of history at our state's beginning, when the Indians, the first Americans, lived on Iowa's prairies. Blue is a symbol of loyalty, and red stands for courage. The center of the flag depicts a soaring eagle carrying a banner of our state motto, "Our Liberties We Prize, and Our Rights We Will Maintain." By combining the eagle, a symbol of our nation, and the state's motto, Gebhardt wanted to convey the fact that Iowa is now an integral part of the United States.

In 1946, Iowa's Centennial year, a three-cent stamp, depicting the Iowa State Flag, was issued on December 28, the anniversary of Iowa's statehood. A first-day commemorative envelope was also printed, with a picture of Gebhardt holding the original flag. The flag was also incorporated as part of the design for the Iowa State Centennial Seal.

Gebhardt was born November 18, 1866, in Knoxville, the daughter of Dr. Norman R. Cornell. Dr. Cornell was a pioneer Knoxville physician, who served as Army Surgeon during the Civil War. She married George Tullis Gebhardt of Knoxville in June, 1900. The couple had no children. She was a member of the Des Moines Abigail Adams Chapter of the DAR, and served as State Recording Secretary of the DAR from 1913 to 1916. She later helped to organize the Mary Marion Chapter of the DAR in Knoxville in 1917. She also served as State Regent of the DAR from 1916 to 1918. Gebhardt died October 16, 1955, in Knoxville, and is buried at Graceland Cemetery.

Gebhardt wrote that "Iowa's banner should embrace the history of its domain from the time of its occupation by the Indians to discovery by the French and purchase from Napoleon by Jefferson, to its admission into the Union, down to the present time. All this should be represented in a design so simple that school children and adults can recognize its symbolism and know that it meant Iowa." After serving as our state flag for more than 75 years, it is apparent that its designer achieved her goal.
Submitted by Dov Gutterman, 19 June 2000

State Military Crest

The state military crest, which is the crest used in the coats of arms of units of the National Guard, as granted by the precursor organizations of what is now the Army Institute of Heraldry. The official Institute of Heraldry blazon is "A hawk's head erased proper. [Iowa is known as the Hawkeye State.]"
Joe McMillan, 21 April 2000