FURTHERMORE, THE VEXILLOLOGIST
Here’s a new word for you. Vexillological. How’s that for a swell word?
Brother Furthermore Raven and I learned it recently in the Omaha
World-Herald. It’s not the sort of word you usually find in the Herald. I
should know because they used to be The Bad Guys years ago when I was
editing the Benson Sun, a weekly paper that liked to nip and snap at the
ankles of the much bigger World-Herald on a regular basis. At the Sun, we
weren’t even sure the writers at the Herald were literate. Who knew? (In
truth, the story was from Associated Press, but someone at the Herald had to
approve it for local publication!)
So now they hit us with vexillological, which is, as you already knew, the
study of flags.
Vexillologicalists even have their own club—the North American
Vexillological Association, established in 1967 and dedicated to the
scholarly study of flags. In Nebraska, we have to make our own fun, you
know? And, anyway, NAVA has more than 450 members, most of whom have never
been near Nebraska, so don’t get snippy about it.
But that’s not why the story about vexillogicalism appeared in the
World-Herald. It seems that the flag fanatics have done a study of the 50
state flags to determine which are the best and which are the worst. They
did this on the Internet and netted 29,000 votes from people in 20
countries. Ain’t technology grand?
And you know what? The Nebraska state flag was the second worst flag in the
country! That’s right! One notch above Georgia and a step below Montana.
As a native of the Cornhusker State, I’m so proud! Kansas, South Dakota,
Minnesota, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Idaho and New Hampshire rounded out the
bottom 10. The critics pointed out that the Nebraska flag—and most of the
other bottom 10—were little more than “a state seal on a bedsheet.” We’ll
come back to the Nebraska flag in a moment.
On the other side of the issue are the top 10 state flags. New Mexico is
number one. You probably have seen it. A bright yellow bedsheet, about the
shade of a Checker Cab, with a red Zia on it. The Zia is a symbol stolen
from area Indians who hold it sacred and are suing to get it back. But
that’s another story. Second best was Texas with its lonely, single star,
followed by Maryland, Alaska and—you guessed it!—Arizona! Who knew we had
such great taste in Arizona?!
Back to Nebraska for a moment. The state flag is a sheet of tasteful blue
with an elegant gold seal of the Great State of Nebraska at its center. It
is my sincere hope that the good people of Nebraska, most of whom can’t
spell vexillological and could care less, thumb their collective noses at
the NAVA and suggest they all go someplace and get lives.
On the off chance that Nebraskans don’t do this, however, a new flag will
be in order. Here are some off-hand suggestions:
1. A John Deere tractor with a manure spreader attached, on a Big Red
2. Speaking of the Big Red, a portrait of former UofN football coach Tom
Osborn with halo on a Big Red background.
3. An ear of corn on a green background.
4. A dead pheasant. Background color makes no difference.
5. A single grain elevator on blue.
6. A sheet of red with a large black N on it. This is popular at the
University, where the N is widely thought to stand for “knowledge.”
7. Cut a deal with the Indians. Steal the New Mexico flag.
8. Cut a deal with Gov. Jane Hull. Buy the Arizona flag. Just about
everything else in Arizona is for sale, anyway.
Well, that’s enough. If you think of any great ideas, feel free to forward
them to the state of Nebraska. They’ve probably got a website. You might
also tell them about the attack of the Vexillologicalists. They’ll probably
be so glad to hear from you that they’ll give you very specific instructions
about what you can do with your flag design. Pole and all.