EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 26, 2013

Let traditional flag fly, N.H. residents say

By John Toole
jtoole@eagletribune.com

---- — DERRY — It looks like a Philadelphia designer’s revision of the New Hampshire flag won’t fly with Granite Staters.

People who got a look at Ed Mitchell’s flag this week immediately sounded retreat.

“I don’t like that,” said Jackie Boudreau of Derry. “It looks like Texas.”

Danielle Puccilli of Derry agreed.

“No way in heck,” she said. “We need style.”

The state flag is one of the 603 Reasons readers recently said New Hampshire is special.

It includes the state seal, featuring a view of the frigate Raleigh, on a blue background.

Mitchell’s “United We Stand” project redesigns the nation’s state flags, including New Hampshire.

In a posting on his company website, Mitchell said state flags as a group violate just about every rule of flag design.

“I was immediately bothered by how discordant they are as a group,” Mitchell wrote. “When you look at them all together, there’s no indication they come from the same nation.”

His flags stick to guidelines set out nearly 50 years ago by the International Federation of Vexillological Association.

Those say flags should be simple, have meaningful symbols, two or three colors, no text or seal, and be distinct from others.

Mitchell’s take on the New Hampshire flag replaces the state seal with a blue number one down the left side on a red field, a white star near the top of the numeral.

The one is significant.

“The number one represents New Hampshire’s status as the first colony to break away from Great Britain in 1776,” the website said.

“Too simplistic,” Robyn Hannigan said in dismissing the redesign.

Claude Letoile of Londonderry said he likes the flag as it is.

“I’m so used to it,” Letoile said.

“It’s original, period,” Kailyn Wright of Derry said. “I don’t think it needs to be changed.”

Wright said the New Hampshire flag is the one she learned about as a youngster in school.

She shakes her head over Mitchell’s redesign.

“There’s no point to it,” she said.

The proposed redesign puzzled one local fourth-grader.

“I don’t know what it is,” said Londonderry’s Allie Curran, a Matthew Thornton School student bound for a Statehouse tour next week.

“I don’t think a lot of people know what that represents,” said her mother, Lisa Curran, said, looking over Mitchell’s version. “I’d rather stay with the flag we have today. That’s been our flag for a long time and it has the state seal.”

Benjamin Tufts of Derry didn’t like Mitchell’s design either.

“That looks like a foreign country flag to me,” Tufts said.

There’s a lot to like about the flag today, including the presence of the name of the state, he said.

Besides, there’s an issue with changing, Tufts said.

“That could be a little confusing,” he said.

Only a Massachusetts resident, Scott Harrington of Methuen, had anything positive to say about Mitchell’s flag.

“It’s good,” said Harrington, a photographer and designer who used to live in New Hampshire and calls it his favorite state. “He wants it to be simple, but there’s too much empty space.”

State archivist Brian Burford said there have been seven attempts to change the flag since 1996 — all have failed.

Some wanted to include the motto “Live Free or Die” or the image of the Old Man of the Mountain.

The negative response to changing the state flag didn’t surprise Burford.

“That’s my reaction, too, but you expect that from an archivist, someone who lives in the past,” he said. “We like traditional.”

Mitchell did not return phone calls, but acknowledged on the website people might disagree with his flags.

“I love the idea that we can argue and fight with each other and that we have the freedom to redesign potent, historic symbols,” he wrote. “Freedom of expression— of speech and ideas — is what makes this nation great.

“But lately it feels like we’re off balance. I believe design can be used as a tool to challenge our current beliefs,” he said, “in this case, to make people think about what we represent, what image we want to project, and how it will look when we’re all working together.”