The past few legislative sessions have been abuzz with flag talk. An initiative to restore the First Maine Flag to official status was defeated in 2019 and the Secretary of State issued a different flag in celebration of the bicentennial. Those celebrations were regrettably cancelled due to COVID-19, as were this company’s own exciting plans.
However, Representative Sean Paulhus from Bath has taken up the cause and reintroduced the same legislation. There seems to be a lot of momentum around it this time, including numerous articles in state media and an hour long debate on Maine Public (radio). You may remember Sean Paulhus from his time as city counselor of Bath. I worked closely with him in the design committee for the creation of the Bath city flag.
I was compelled to submit testimony to the legislature in support of the initiative and I also submitted the following letter to the Editor of the Portland Press Herald:
On Wednesday, February 3 elected representatives will discuss the restoration of Maine’s first flag, replacing the current official version featuring the State’s seal. To some, flags are regarded as inconsequential and a waste of our elected officials’ time. On the contrary, there is no better time to consider it.
Under existential threats, our elected officials at the Continental Congress in 1777 found the time to adopt our nation’s flag while they went on winning the revolutionary war. In 1814, on a mission for then President James Madison, Francis Scott Key was imprisoned on a British ship and witnessed the bombardment of Baltimore. Under duress he managed to write a poem about what he witnessed that went on to become our national anthem. Through rockets’ red glare, our star-spangled banner has given hope and pride to those fighting for our freedom. Likewise, the Pine and Polaris of Maine may inspire, unite, and give hope to Mainers haunted by a global pandemic and terrified by political divisions. With so much pessimism and division going on, especially at the federal level, adopting the first Maine flag is a positive gesture we can make toward building community.
Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Mainers undoubtedly comes first and foremost, but in the pine tree state we elect vigorous and ambitious leaders to represent us. Yes, we need a response to COVID-19, but after months of isolation, unemployment, and so much uncertainty, we deserve some positive news out of Augusta too.