Maine State Flag: History, Design, Trivia
DATE FIRST USED
Maine State Flag
Dark blue with the state coat of arms at the center.
Symbols: The coat of arms of the state of Maine. In the center is a shield with an elaborate gold frame showing a pine tree, green grass, a moose (the state's official animal), water, and sky. The tree, grass, and moose represent Maine's wildlife. The pine tree also represents the state's important timber industry. To the left of the shield is a farmer leaning on a scythe, symbolizing agriculture, and to the right, a sailor leaning on an anchor represents sailing and commerce. Above the shield are the North Star and the state motto, "Dirigo," meaning, "I lead." The star and motto are partly a reference to the state's historically important ports and shipping industry, because the North Star was a guide to sailors, and partly a promise that the state will do well in guiding its citizens. Below the shield and the men is a ribbon with the state name in white.
Colors: Dark blue; other colors that may vary but typically include greens, lighter blues, brown, red, yellow, white, and flesh tones. The blue background is the same color as the national flag's blue canton, linking the state to the nation. Blue also represents the sky, the sea, and tranquility. The coat of arms should be realistic colors, but the state makes no specifications.
Variations: There are no specific colors for the coat of arms on the state flag, so there are substantial variations in the colors different manufacturers use.
Maine's first official state flag came into use on March 21, 1901, when the state's legislature adopted a yellow-beige flag, specified as buff-colored. It had a pine tree in the center and a dark blue star in the canton. Little else is known about how this flag looked or how much it flew.
Not quite eight years later, Maine adopted a completely different state flag. The new version was deep blue, the same blue as on the canton of the U.S. flag, and had the state coat of arms in the center. The flag law also specified that the flag should be silk with an embroidered design and that it should have a silk fringe and tassel. Many Maine flags do not include all these details, but the blue flag with the coat of arms has flown in Maine ever since, with only slight adjustments to the coat of arms. The state's adjutant general keeps the official copy of the flag for anyone who needs to study or reproduce it.
Generally, state flags are accorded the same respect as the U.S. flag, though the national flag takes precedence. The state flag should not be allowed to touch the ground during hoisting and lowering, and it should hang clear of the floor or ground and anything else that may be under the flag. The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously. The flag should fly only during daylight hours unless it is properly lit after dark. It should never be deliberately torn, marked or damaged. Flags that become too dirty or tattered through normal wear and tear should be replaced and disposed of privately.
LEGENDS, CONTROVERSIES, AND TRIVIA
Makers of Maine flags generally use realistic colors, with a notable exception. The flag shows one pine tree in the foreground and a grove of trees in the background. When all are green, they appear to run together and make the picture indistinct, especially when seen from a distance as flags so often are. Because of this, the trees in the background are often shaded with odd colors such as purple or pink just to provide contrast and allow the pine tree in the front to stand out.
Given the importance of the state's shipping industry and ports, Maine also has a Merchant and Marine flag. It is white with a green stylized pine tree in the center. Behind the pine tree is a tilted blue anchor. "Dirigo" is written in slightly curved blue capitals above, and "Maine" below.
-World Trade Press