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The Ohio flag, Flag Day and the Blue Jackets: What does it all mean?

by Katie Foglia / Columbus Blue Jackets

For those who don’t know, Sunday, June 14 is Flag Day – a holiday that is celebrated every year. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on that day in 1777 by resolution of the Second Continental Congress. Although Flag Day is not an official federal holiday, it is still an important date in the history of our nation.

Are you wondering where this is going? Stick with us here…

During the Civil War, Ohioans proudly marched following the lead of their flags. Each flag served as a symbol of history, legacy and pride. The flag was a unifying force. It gave identity to those who marched with it, and marked who owned the territory beneath it. There was no greater honor and privilege than to carry the flag.

Today, the Blue Jackets flag (the primary logo) flies for Columbus and the hockey fans of Ohio. A stylized version of the flag is proudly displayed as the crest of the uniform, in the form of a “C” wrapped around a silver and white star, which represents both patriotism and Columbus’ status as state capital. 

The Blue Jackets introduced this primary mark for 2007-08.

While all of the teams in the NHL have their own unique history, the Blue Jackets are the only team in the league that has a flag as the main component of its logo. So, you could say, Flag Day is the "official unofficial" holiday of the Blue Jackets.

On June 25, 1997, the NHL made its official announcement that Columbus was awarded an expansion franchise along with Atlanta, Nashville and Minneapolis-St. Paul. With a franchise in hand and an arena set to break ground, the next step was naming the team.

The Blue Jackets ownership, led by late founder John H. McConnell, decided to take fan votes into consideration and, along with guidance from the NHL, eventually decided on the name “Blue Jackets.” The name was selected because it pays homage to Ohio’s contributions to American history and the pride and patriotism exhibited by its citizens, especially during the Civil War as both the state of Ohio and the city of Columbus were significantly influential on the Union Army.

The great state also produced a handful of Civil War figures including George Custer, Ulysses S. Grant, Philip Sheridan and William Tecumseh Sherman. Columbus was host to large military bases, including Camp Chase and Camp Thomas. Additionally, Ohio contributed more of its population to the Union Army than any other state, while many of the Blue Coats worn by the Union soldiers were manufactured right here in Columbus. Pretty cool, right?

But before we get too ahead of ourselves, let’s take a few steps back…

For our Canadian friends and anyone who fell asleep during social studies class on the day of the Flag Day lesson, here's a quick recap:

According to The National Flag Day Foundation, in 1885 in Waubeka, Wisconsin, Bernard John Cigrand, a 19-year-old school teacher at Stony Hill School, placed a 10 inch, 38-star flag in an inkwell and had his students write essays on what the flag meant to them. He called June 14 the flag’s birthday.

This observance commemorated the date that the “Stars and Stripes” was authorized by Congress as the official National symbol of the United States of America on that Saturday of June 14, 1777. This observance also marked the beginning of Cigrand’s long years of fervent and devoted effort to bring about national recognition and observance of Flag Day.

On May 30, 1916, President Wilson issued a proclamation calling for a nation wide observance of Flag Day. Then in 1949, President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating the 14th day of June every year as National Flag Day. Most recently, On June 14, 2004, the 108th U.S. Congress voted unanimously on H.R. 662 that Flag Day originated in Ozaukee County, Waubeka Wisconsin.

Congrats, Cigrand!

To sum things up: #Merica.

Alright, now that we got that out of the way, let’s get back to the good stuff, like how the Blue Jackets fit into all of this, shall we?

As mentioned above, the current logo of the Blue Jackets was inspired by the state flag of Ohio and includes other elements that signify the importance of the state of Ohio and, more specifically, the city of Columbus in our nation’s history.

The official state flag of Ohio, called the Ohio burgee, is based upon the pennant used by the Ohio cavalry from 1862-65. Ohio’s is the only U.S. state flag that is not shaped in a rectangle.

Another history lesson, courtesy of the local hockey team. #nobigdeal

A quick note on the state flag of Ohio: the official flag has a unique swallowtail pennant design that Ohio legislation describes as burgee-shaped.

It was designed by John Eisemann and officially adopted in 1902. The blue triangular field represents Ohio’s hills and valleys. Located inside the triangle are 17 white stars, 13 of which symbolize the original colonies. The other four stars at the tip of the triangle (when added to the previous 13) represent the fact that Ohio was the 17th state to enter the Union in 1803. Additionally, the red and white stripes represent the roads and waterways of the state.

Finally, the white circle with a red center forms an “O” for “Ohio” and is also related to Ohio’s nickname, The Buckeye State.

The more you know, right? Let’s continue…

The original Blue Jackets logo features a star-studded red ribbon unfurled in the shape of the team’s initials, “C” and “B,” with an electric green hockey stick sitting at the center to represent the “J.”

The 13 stars (see the pattern here?) represents each of the 13 original U.S. colonies and also signifies patriotism. And the star on top of the hockey stick, of course, signifies Columbus as the state capital.

In keeping with themes that reiterate the connection between the Blue Jackets team name and its Civil War heritage, the distinguishing design element of the Third Jersey is the felt crest depicting the hockey club's signature 1857 Napoleon cannon that fires when the Blue Jackets take the ice at the start of each game at Nationwide Arena and also for each goal scored by the home team. 

The team name "Columbus Blue Jackets" encircles the cannon in a ribbon inspired by Civil War medals while a single star centered at the bottom of the crest **spoiler alert** signifies Columbus as Ohio's capital.

Ohioans today march to battle at Nationwide Arena and carry the flag for the only NHL team in the Buckeye State. The next time you march – remember – when you carry or wave the flag, you represent the spirit and character of your team, your city and the state of Ohio.

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