The idea that Wisconsin’s state flag should be junked found little favor in an online survey conducted by the Wisconsin Labor History Society.
Only one out of the 33 persons who replied to the survey agreed with the view of a column in Madison’s Isthmus newspaper (July 4, 2016) that Wisconsin’s long-standing state flag was too cluttered and should be changed for a more appealing, modern design.
Most respondents (27 or 82%) agreed with the statement that “the current flag should stay because it displays the contributions of working people” to the state’s history. Three others preferred to keep the current flags because of its historic tradition, while two said that they were “not sure” whether a change should be made.
What attracted most respondents to the current flag was that it incorporates the State Seal, created in 1851 by the state’s first governor, Nelson Dewey. The seal portrays a sailor and a miner flanking a coat of arms that includes symbols of the tools of farmer, miner, blacksmith and sailor, all four trades that were significant in Wisconsin’s early development.
Several comments submitted by respondents displayed their thinking: “It reflects the history of labor workers in Wisconsin, in fact it brings history to life. One of the problems with today’s society is that too many people don’t care about history anymore. Here is a chance to keep that image on the flag, and as we all know, images can spark curiosity and imagination. Even the drawing itself is done in an old world style. It is quite beautiful and the colors are brilliant. . .”
“ . . . Wisconsin has the only flag with people on it, and it IS the people who count. We are not taking the flag onto a battlefield. The abstraction wipes out that which might not be so wise to forget. Why trade our roots for eye candy?”
“The flag represents all of the people that worked to build this State. Many died because of it. The flag is rich in tradition. The flag represents all of the people that worked to build this State. Many died because of it. The flag is rich in tradition.”
One respondent said the flag needs to be changed: “A new flag that incorporates working class history in Wisconsin is a fine idea, but the current flag is cluttered, ugly, and not effective as a symbol of Wisconsin or labor pride. We need a new flag.”
Pleas to change the flag due to its artistic shortcomings have come occasionally in newspaper columns, such as from July 1, 2015, Wausau Record Herald and the Isthmus. Thus far, no official action has been instituted to make any changes.