Provo organization wants its design to replace Utah’s state flag

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A Provo-based organization is hoping that its design will become Utah’s new state flag.

Utah Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, has introduced a bill in the Utah Legislature that would change Utah’s current state flag to a new design featuring a prominent beehive against a red, white and blue backdrop.

Richard Martin, the founder of the Organization for a New Utah Flag, privately raised money to create the design, which has been in the works for more than two years. Martin said he’s had a fascination with flags since he was a kid, which inspired him to start designing a new flag he believes to be more visually appealing and memorable than Utah’s current state flag.

Utah’s current state flag was first adopted in 1911. It features Utah’s state seal, which includes an eagle with outstretched wings, the state motto “Industry,” a beehive, sego lilies and both the years 1847 and 1896.

After going through hundreds of designs, Martin said the final design came together about two months ago.

“I had an ‘Aha’ moment,” Martin said. “I said, yes, we can get behind that one.”

Martin said he doesn’t see people display Utah’s current state flag, which is not as iconic or memorable as other states like Texas, Colorado or California.

“The current flag is always rated in the bottom 25 of state flags,” Martin said. “It’s not something to be proud of.”

Each part of the flag has meaning, Martin said. The red represents the red rocks of southern Utah, the white represents the snow capped mountains and the blue represents tradition and the Great Salt Lake. The 1847 represents when Utah was settled by Mormon pioneers, though it does not feature 1896, the year.

Jonathan Martin, Richard Martin’s son and the lead of several designers who worked on the flag, said the “X” formed by the colors of the flag are meant to represent the “Crossroads of the West,” symbolizing the history of Promontory Point.

Richard Martin said he spent about $6,000 on the flag’s design, and said he isn’t looking to get that money back.

“I believe this is a really good, worthy thing,” he said. “It’s something that’s good for people, good for everybody.”

There is a second bill in the Utah Legislature to give Stratton’s bill competition. Rep. Stephen Handy, R-Layton, has his own bill concerning getting a new state flag. Handy had previously called the state flag an S.O.B. — seal on a bedsheet — arguing that the flag was poorly designed.

House Bill 219 would create a State Flag Review Commission to assess whether Utah’s current state flag has principles of good flag design.

The commission proposed in Handy’s bill would also receive public input and make a recommendation as to whether the state needs a new flag. It would then be up the Utah Legislature to create a process to select a new state flag design.

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