The Significance and Meaning Behind the Illinois State Flag

The Illinois state flag, a banner of pride for the Land of Lincoln, carries a rich tapestry of history and symbolism. The flag features the patriotic sight of the bald eagle holding a shield with the stars and bars of the United States. However, beyond the flag’s vibrant colors is the story of its inception, evolution, and the deep meanings interwoven into its design. Read on to learn about the significance and meaning behind the Illinois state flag.

How the Flag's Original Design Came to Be

Although Illinois joined the union in 1818, it would not receive its flag until nearly a century later. Ella Park Lawrence of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) spearheaded a design contest to create a flag for the state.

The contest winner would win $25 for their DAR chapter. Ultimately, the reward went to Lucy Derwent, whose design became Illinois' official flag in 1915.

What the Original Design Symbolized

Derwent’s design, with its crisp white backdrop and central state seal, is a canvas filled with symbolism that speaks volumes about Illinois' heritage and values. In addition to featuring the United States’ national bird holding a shield with America’s colors, her design had the animal standing on a rock that featured Illinois’ years of statehood and its own state seal.

In addition, the eagle had a streamer in its mouth that featured Illinois’ motto: "State Sovereignty, National Union." This emblem, set against the simplicity of a prairie field, was meant to embody the state. But more changes were to come.

How It Underwent a Redesign

The final chapter in the story of the significance and meaning behind the Illinois state flag occurred in 1969. Some had called for a redesign since they noticed the flag’s details were not easily distinguishable from a distance.

In addition, Chief Petty Officer Bruce McDaniel petitioned for changes after he saw that other soldiers could not recognize the Illinois flag while he served in the Vietnam War. He noted that among other state flags, Illinois' flag lacked distinction.

The redesign added the word "Illinois" in bold, making it proudly identifiable even from afar. In addition, the flag also now features the sun shining in the background over the waters of Lake Michigan.

Today, the Illinois state flag stands as a beacon of its enduring legacy, commitment to unity, and storied past. You can show your love for Illinois by purchasing the state flag from Liberty Flagpoles. We offer a broad selection of nylon flags for all of the United States, constructed to last so you can show your pride for your state for a very long time on your flagpole.

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