Springfield, MO

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Public turns out for raising of new city flag

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The city of Springfield’s new flag – powder blue and white, with a compass rose at its center – was hoisted in a Tuesday afternoon ceremony at Park Central Square.

The 1938 flag, with its red, white and blue bars and white corner stars, was lowered and handed to Katie Turer, the new executive director of the History Museum on the Square, to archive and preserve.

It was a sunny day with temperatures approaching 70, and there was just enough wind to show off the new flag to maximum effect for the 100-plus spectators at the midday ceremony.

Mayor Ken McClure thanked them for coming and being part of what he called a very significant and historic occasion to honor the city’s retiring standard.

“Why is a flag so important? Why do people become so invested in flags?” he asked.

He noted that scenes of the azure and gold Ukrainian flag being displayed worldwide help to illustrate the importance. At landmarks throughout the world, from the Eiffel Tower to the Empire State Building to Springfield’s Cox South hospital, the colors of the flag were on display to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

“It was a symbol of unity and a symbol of hope,” McClure said.

McClure said a flag is honored for what it represents: an idea and an ideal. He outlined the symbols on the new flag: the compass crown, representing the city’s position as a transportation crossroads, topped by three four-pointed stars, which represent innovative spirit, connection with nature and Ozarks culture.

In remarks before the raising of the new flag, McClure spoke of the diversity of that culture.

“Here you will find entrepreneurs, outdoorsmen, artists, athletes,” he said. “Too often, we hesitate to brag on ourselves. I urge you to recognize the flag as a way to express your community pride.

“Let this new flag speak to not only our unique history and identity, but also serve as a symbol of hope, opportunity and the transformative days ahead. It is now time to raise our new flag.”

The Central High School Kilties Drum & Bugle Corps marched and played while the flag was raised by a color guard of the city’s Police and Fire departments.

One person present to witness the occasion was John McQueary, who got the whole movement started as co-founder of the Springfield Identity Project. That organization proposed the new design in 2017, and Springfield City Council approved it on Jan. 10 this year.

“It’s great to see so much positive energy surrounding it,” McQueary said. “This is an amazing day.”

There were no protesters on hand at the event, nor any visible opponents of the flag, though many people approached council to express their disapproval of the design and the process by which it was adopted. Some asked for a community vote or for a renewed process that was open to the public. City resident Neil Frost wrote a letter to Springfield Business Journal to express that the city would benefit from a flag redesign but that it should have been a community-led project.

McQueary said he thinks people may be starting to see the popularity of the new flag.

“People are seeing what sort of broad community support this has,” he said. “A lot of people are proud of living in Springfield, and they want a unique way to express that.”

Michael Stelzer was another member of the Springfield Identity Project who attended the ceremony.

Stelzer said he thought the new flag’s supporters prevailed because of a strong, meaningful design and good strategy for promoting its use.

Stelzer and McQueary were among about a dozen people who worked in grassroots fashion to design and propose the flag to council, rather than the flag redesign being a council-initiated project.

Council member Heather Hardingersaid she considered it a very exciting day.

“I think that Springfield is changing and evolving,” she said. “As we change and grow, having a city flag that reflects the progress of our community is important.”

Turer held the retired historic flag in her hand as she departed the ceremony to give it a permanent place in the History Museum’s collection.

“We hope to honor the past while looking to the future,” she said. “That’s really what all of this is about.”

As for the new design, Turer saw it as a forward-facing symbol.

“It’s such a beautiful symbol of who Springfield is and what it’s going to be,” she said.


2 comments on this story |
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“It’s such a beautiful symbol of who Springfield is and what it’s going to be,” I read today in the news that Springfield made the top 10 most dangerous places in the USA. How is spending taxpayers money and time on a new flag going stop the violence, drug overdoses and late night flights into the Springfield airport of un-vetted and un-do***ented people ?

Thursday, March 3

There is support of the new flag but it is not "broad", it is a small minority of the Springfield community. This is because the City of Springfield's process for approving a new flag did not consider the will of the people, though they pretended it did, hence the strong dissent from the community, exactly the opposite of the SIP’s stated goal. It could have been a process that brought the whole community together had they implemented the successful process many other communities like Tulsa implemented. The majority would have accepted a design, even this one, had it been chosen by the entire community in a democratic process. City leaders instead made decisions based on clout and cronyism. We now have the SIP Flag instead of the People’s Flag.

Thursday, March 3
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