Alaska's flag

The Big Dipper and the North Star

Benny Benson memorial site, the designer of  Alaska's flag.
Alaska's flag displaying the Big Dipper  and the North Star
on a blue field is shown on the memorial stone.  
In 1927, Alaska (not yet a state at that time) organized a competition for children to design a flag for Alaska territory. Since the US purchased Alaska from Russia, there was no official flag for that territory. From over 700 submitted designs, the blue field with the Big Dipper and the North Star submitted by Benny Benson, was original enough to win the competition.

Most of the other designs featured bears, northern lights or gold rush artifacts for the future Alaska's flag. First level of the Alaska's flag competition was a local school contest. Ten best local designs were submitted to the central competition in Juneau. Benny's design was chosen as the best and became the official flag of Alaska by decision of Alaska Territorial Legislature in May, 1927.

The winning design was not the only one prepared by Benny Benson. The original design has been modified by removing year 1867 from below the Big Dipper. 

Benny Benson design for the Alaska's flag was submitted for the competition with the following description:
The blue field is for the Alaska sky and the forget-me-not, an Alaskan flower. The North Star is for the future state of Alaska, the most northerly in the union. The Dipper is for the Great Bear—symbolizing strength.

Benny Benson and Seward, Alaska

Alaska's flag on a Kenai Fjords tour boat in Seward, Alaska
Benny Benson at the time of the Alaska's flag competition was a 13 year old boy living in the Jesse Lee Mission Home, an orphanage in Seward, Alaska. Benny was a native Alaskan and was born in 1913 to Russian-Aleut mother and Swedish father.

For the design of the Alaska's flag Benny was awarded a gold watch with his design engraved and $1000. The watch has been donated by him to Alaska State Museum in 1963.

Benny Benson spent most of his adult life in Kodiak, Alaska. Benson died in 1972. Seward celebrated his contribution to Alaska by setting his memorial site in the town. 

See also:
Worlds most amazing hotels
Honeymoon in Alaska - Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

2 comments:

Roselie said...

Interesting history... Thanks for stopping by my my blog :)

Psyche said...

Wow! I think a flag made by a child (with pure ideals and untainted visions) is more meaningful than a flag made by adults who are already biased by personal ideals. This piece of history is really amazing. And your blog is amazing. I also love history, and I love reading about little details that many people do not know.

Thanks for sharing these pieces of history!

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