She's a Beauty!
Does anyone know what today is? If you said, “Wednesday” that’s correct but still not right. Think specifically, June 14th. Any ideas? How about if I add the term “vexillology?”
Give up? Today is Flag Day and “vexillology” is the study, collection and design of flags.
I find this topic most appropriate today of all days because our fair city has for the first time ever, its own flag created and vetted by a rising sophomore at Clinton High School, Mr. Patrick Nelson. That’s right…an exceptional Laurens County School District 56 student.
Patrick began his efforts back in middle school when under the direction of Ms. Edith Ann Grant and Ms. Terri O’Shields, he began researching city flags and applying the “do’s and don’ts” from the North American Vexillological Association in his development for a City of Clinton flag.
I think it is very important to understand the process by which the current flag we proudly display outside of the Municipal Building was born.
In an effort to keep it concise I will follow a bulleted list for the process.
Patrick initially designed six flags during the 2015 – 2016 school year;
He polled 100 students at Clinton Middle School regarding the six flags;
The bottom three flag designs were eliminated; three new designs were created;
He then polled 300 students at Clinton Middle School on the revised six flag designs;
He took the winning design (which received 175 votes, compared to 125 spread out among the other five) and presented it to then-City Manager Frank Stovall as his design for the city flag;
In early June 2016, Mr. Stovall emailed Patrick about a City Flag Subcommittee;
Patrick and the Subcommittee met in October 2016;
The design was approved and forwarded to the City Council for adoption;
The City Council met on November 7, 2016, moved to take a final vote and approved it by a 6 – 0 decision (One council member was absent).
I think the above process is all-the-more remarkable in demonstrating the research, dedication, and scholarship required to see an idea to fruition by a fourteen-year old student.
However, the story only gets better from here.
Flags are near sacred items to many people. Just talk to a member of the US Armed Forces about their reverence to the national flag. This reverence is not just because a flag is beautiful; it is far more important for the flag to be symbolic…telling a story about a place, a state, or a nation.
Patrick’s research indicated a far deeper understanding than ninety-nine percent of the residents in our fair community.
Every part of his design depicts a special part of who we are in Clinton and the qualities we most want others to know about us. Again, a bulleted list will suffice for brevity’s sake:
The crescent moon comes from our own state flag;
The shade of blue is also a tribute to our state and national flag as well as a reference to Presbyterian College and symbolizes our community;
The shade of red symbolizes our schools;
The white band moving upwards denotes forward progress assisted by the joint efforts of the community and schools working together;
The red bordering on blue and the blue on red demonstrate the need for the schools and community always to be in touch and influencing one other;
The overarching three colors—red, white, and blue—showcase the respect for and appreciation to the US flag as well the three different charters in Clinton’s history; and finally
Looking from left to right, one would see five colors—blue, red, white, blue, red—pays honor to our town’s original name, Five Points.
The flag’s beauty is further enhanced by the intentional, well-researched symbolism expressed above.
Did I mention the story only gets better from here? Well, it gets even better.
On May 24, 2017, Albert Kirsch from Carroll County, Ill., sent Mary Wallace-Riley an email praising the City of Clinton’s flag. It said, “I just saw your new city flag and wish to compliment your town on a design that can only be called perfect. It is simple yet distinctive, and the crescent alludes nicely to the state flag...I am appalled by most US civic flags. My compliments to Mr. Nelson, who has a great future in vexillography.”
Not only do we have a beautiful city flag but it now has passed with a rating of “Perfect” from another professional well-skilled in vexillology. And to think he is only 15 years old!
So the next time you pass the Municipal Building, pay close attention to the research, determination, scholarship, and dream-now-reality of our very own City of Clinton flag flying proudly with her two sisters.
Three cheers for Mr. Patrick Nelson!
Three cheers for our City of Clinton!
And three cheers for our beautiful, “perfect” City of Clinton flag.
Happy Flag Day, everyone!
(Dr. David O’Shields is superintendent of Laurens School District 56.)