OKLAHOMA CITY -- For the first time since 1925, the original state flag of Oklahoma will be flown over the State Capitol as part of the centennial celebrations of the Oklahoma Capitol building.
The original flag, which is designed with a white star on a red field with the number 46 in blue, was adopted as Oklahoma’s flag in 1911 by then-Governor Lee Cruce but was retired when a new design was adopted in 1925. The 46 is significant in that Oklahoma was the 46th state, admitted into the union in 1907.
For fans of the original state flag, the idea of the “red flag” flying above the capitol is an exciting one that nods to Oklahoma’s unique history.
“I think it’s great. It’s really neat that the original state flag will fly above the Capitol once more,” said David Glover, a vexillologist (expert in symbolisms in flags) and local activist. “It is such an iconic and visually-striking flag. The flag will be 5 feet by 8 feet, and it’s being made by Liberty Flags in Tulsa, which I think is important. The Oklahoma flag is being made right here in Oklahoma.”
Glover was the catalyst of legislation that created new license plates displaying the 46 flag two years ago. During the 2015 legislative session, one of the bills to pass the legislature and be signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin was House Bill 1269, authored by State Rep. Dennis Casey (R-Morrison) and Sen. AJ Griffin (R-Guthrie), which is for the “Oklahoma Original State Flag License Plate.” Former State Rep. Joe Dorman (D-Rush Springs) originally sponsored legislation to create the 46-star flag plate, complete with the Oklahoma state motto. the Latin phrase "Labor Omnia Vincit," which translates as "Work Conquers All."
“I think the red flag fell out of favor. Red flags were associated with communism and Marxism for a while, and a red flag was also used to indicate Spanish influenza, so red flags had a negative connotation for a while,” Glover said. “There were a few people in Oklahoma who knew about the original state flag and liked it. When the license plates became available, I think that generated a whole lot of interest too. By the way, I did get plate No. 1 when the plates became available.”
The decision to fly the original flag as one of 28 state flags to be displayed over the next two weeks was an easy decision to make, said Jana Miller, senior advisor for communications for the governor’s office.
“It made sense to fly the original flag for the celebration,” Miller said. “When the flags come down, they will be donated to different dignitaries throughout the state.”
The reintroduction of the original state flag at the Capitol is part of several events announced today by Gov. Mary Fallin to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Capitol building. In addition, the governor will host a ceremony to highlight the centennial and will include a time capsule to be interred at the newly-renovated lower level of the Capitol building and opened in 100 years.
The artifacts to be included will be displayed at 1 p.m. Monday, June 26 at the Capitol’s fourth-floor rotunda before the 2 p.m. commemoration ceremony.
Due to the construction at the Capitol, the time capsule will not be permanently installed until the renovation nears completion. The artifacts donated to the time capsule represent all facets of Oklahoma and its people.
According to a release from the governor’s office, other items to commemorate the building’s 100th birthday include commissioning a painting of the Capitol that will hang in the Capitol upon completion, a guest book for Oklahomans to sign and offer thoughts and hopes for the next 100 years that will be included in the time capsule, and flying at the Capitol for two weeks, starting June 19, the original state flag that was in use when the Capitol was built. Relatedly, OETA will be re-broadcasting its special program on the Capitol building, “Stateline: Oklahoma Rising”, at 7 pm on Thursday, June 29.
In 2013, the Oklahoma Century Chest, which was created and buried in 1913 was created, a time capsule similar to the one being interred this month. Items from the Century Chest are now on exhibit at the Oklahoma History Center with never-before-seen photographs, documents, and American Indian artifacts. Oklahoma pioneer Angelo C. Scott's speech delivered at the burial of the chest in 1913 is also included. In addition, the exhibit contains dozens of messages prophecies and letters from the pioneers of 1913 to their descendants 100 years later.
“Our beautiful Capitol building was completed on June 30, 1917,” said Fallin in the release. “It has been an honor to work in the ‘People’s House’ during my political career, and an honor to oversee preserving and protecting it for future generations. As The Oklahoman editorialized when the cornerstone was dedicated in 1915, ‘It is your state capitol. Your civic pride helped to make it possible. It was builded [sic] for you and your servants of Oklahoma officialdom. It is yours.’ Through this celebration of 100 years and the painstaking restoration taking place, we can honor our great state, our great people, and our proud heritage.”
The commemoration celebrations are funded through private funds raised by the Oklahoma History Center at an event. All the living Oklahoma governors, including Fallin and past governors George Nigh, David Walters, Frank Keating, Brad Henry and David Boren (in absentia), will host the events.