Are you flying the Tennessee state flag correctly? Is that decal of the state’s iconic three stars from the flag you’ve attached to the rear window arranged in the proper configuration? Odds are the answer is no to both questions.
A recent report by WPLN-FM found more often than not the stars are facing the wrong direction. Blake Farmer, an assistant news director at the public radio station, reported some Tennesseans routinely fly the state flag upside down. Many mistakenly try to align the flag so that the three stars are arranged like a triangle with one over two.
That’s incorrect. And you not only see it on flagpoles, but also on decals and some articles of clothing that are intended to pay homage to this state’s remarkably designed flag.
It’s also a mistake that has sometimes been seen flying over the state Capitol Building. A photo of one such error can be found on WPLN’s website (http://nashvillepublicradio.org).
Forgive us if we are bit touchy about this subject, but we feel Johnson City has a vested interest in seeing that the Tennessee flag is displayed properly since it was one of our own who created it more than a century ago. That same design still flies above the grave of LeRoy Reeves, an attorney and captain in the Tennessee National Guard, who is buried in Johnson City’s Oak Ridge Cemetery.
So here’s a tip for those who wish to fly a Tennessee flag correctly from their own flagpole, but have trouble telling which end is up. According to state law, “The highest star shall be the one nearest the upper confined corner of the flag.”
With his simple design of a red banner with a wheel of three white stars, Reeves managed to do what others had failed to do for more than 70 years — create a state banner that actually looked good atop a flagpole.
“The three stars are of pure white, representing the three grand divisions of the state,” Reeves once wrote in explaining the intent of his design. “They are bound together by the endless circle of the blue field, the symbol being three bound together in one — an indissoluble trinity.
“The large field is crimson. The final blue bar relieves the sameness of the crimson field and prevents the flag from showing too much crimson when hanging limp. The white edgings contrast more strongly the other colors.”
The “grand divisions” that Reeves refers to are the three uniquely contrasting geographical areas of the state: The Great Smoky Mountains and Cumberland Plateau of East Tennessee; the rolling landscape carved by the Tennessee River in Middle Tennessee; and the cotton plantations that dot the bottom land of the Mississippi River.
As we’ve said in this space many times before, Reeves certainly knew what he was doing when he sketched out his vision for the Tennessee flag. His creation is still the best-designed state flag in our country. Let’s give it the respect it deserves by displaying it correctly.