USS Wichita crest celebrates city’s roots

By Lyndsey Edwards

Photo by Derek Pruett

Photo by Derek Pruett

The new USS Wichita under construction in a Wisconsin shipyard is actually the third ship to bear Wichita’s name. This version of the USS Wichita (LCS-13) will be nearly 400 feet long and sprint at top speeds of over 40 knots.

The vessel’s crest was recently unveiled and the design offers insight into the history of our city. The red and white partition of the shield and the Zia Sun are properties from the flag of the City of Wichita. The city’s flag was adopted 79 years ago and each design element has a specific meaning. The red and white rays symbolize the path of freedom to come and go as one pleases. The blue disc or sun represents happiness and contentment. Stitched on the blue sun is an Indian symbol for Hogan or permanent home, represented by a white circle with four sets of three parallel rays emanating from the circle’s principal axis.

Along with the flag, the crest displays other familiar city and state symbols. A buffalo skull symbolizes the Wichita Indians, wheat stalks represent the main crop of Kansas and its residents, and feathers pay tribute to Wichita’s Native American heritage. The ship’s motto, “KEEPER OF THE SEAS,” honors Wichita’s iconic Keeper of the Plains sculpture.

The USS Wichita should be christened in early fall. The two previous ships named after Wichita earned 17 battle stars and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.

Contact Pat Gallagher (316-268-1157) at the Chamber for more details about upcoming USS Wichita events.

No Cure for Flag Fever

The Wichita Flag made a number of appearances in this year's River Festival parade, including this float by Professional Engineering Consultants.

The Wichita Flag made a number of appearances in this year’s River Festival parade, including this float by Professional Engineering Consultants.

It was 79 years ago tomorrow (National Flag Day) that our city’s flag was officially adopted. Elements of the flag were incorporated in this year’s River Festival buttons and in murals that were painted downtown this spring. It’s fairly commonplace to see several people wearing flag lapel pins at official community gatherings and you’ll find the flag waving in many neighborhoods these days. The flag even has its own social media accounts (@wichitaflag). But that hasn’t always been the case.

An article in the Lawrence Journal‐World (dated October 7, 2004), noted that while Wichita’s official city flag was ranked sixth among 150 flags in a 2004 North American Vexillological Association American City Flag survey, it wasn’t even being flown over City Hall at the time. A representative of local flag supplier Helgerson Co. stated in the article that the company had sold less than a dozen Wichita flags.

Over the years some local artists have shown their appreciation for the city’s timeless flag design by Wichitan Cecil B. McAllister. Artist Chris Gulick wrote about the flag in a local publication in 2003, and collaborated with others to raise awareness about it. At that time the flag was only flown a handful of places in Wichita and Gulick said he was told by officials, “People don’t understand it. They don’t know what it means.” Gulick had ornamental license plates printed with the flag, but said, “We couldn’t give them away.”

Fast forward to 2015. A resurgence of pride in Wichita started gaining momentum last year and our community’s unique flag became the logical rallying point. And in one short year, Wichita is raging with flag fever. Gulick commented about the recent “birth” rather than “resurgence” of interest in the Wichita flag during an interview with local radio station KMUW in December, 2015. He said, “It’s huge. It’s a rolling train and you’re not going to stop it now.”

During the last twelve months our flag has become a highly visible part of our city’s landscape thanks to so many Wichitans who are sharing their love for this community. It’s a symbol of our pride in the people, experiences and places that make Wichita special. Most importantly, it’s a tangible reminder that regardless of our differences, we are connected to each other and can move forward faster when we champion our community together.

–Looking for some flag swag to show your Wichita pride? Check out
–Wondering about the ten most popular #WichitaFlag images that have been posted in the last twelve months? Check the @WichitaFlag Instagram account.


Answering your #WichitaFlag questions

There’s been a noticeable resurgence in the interest in our city’s flag during the last few months. We’ve had a number of inquiries at the Chamber since “flag fever” started taking hold. We’re asked most often about the meaning behind the flag and where flags can be purchased. So here are some resources for you to share.

Wichita Flag buttons

Wichita Flag pins

Wichita artist Cecil McAllister, put a lot of thought into his flag design that was adopted by the city almost eighty years ago. Angie Elliott, Director of Business Services for the Chamber, explains the history and symbolism behind the flag in this short video (1 minute and 21 seconds) that can easily be shared via the Chamber’s YouTube channel.

Purchasing a flag
Two Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce members carry Wichita flags that you can purchase for your business or home. Contact Henry Helgerson at 316-943-1851 or The Workroom at 316-295-4520. Follow the The Workroom on social media for images of other flag items they carry as well as discounts on Second Saturday and flash sales. Check @thewokroomICT on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Finding flag pins
Two Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce members carry Wichita flag buttons. Check with Watermark Books or The Workroom for flag buttons, t-shirts, mugs, patches and other flag swag. You can also stop by the Chamber’s booth (#614) at our business-to-business trade show event, Exposure on September 24. We’ve partnered with Tangible Advertising to provide flag pins for exhibitors and attendees on that day. (Plan to participate in our #WichitaFlag social media contest for prizes.)

Following the flag
The Wichita flag has its own social media accounts so that you can see where the flag has been travelling, who is proudly wearing flag swag, and how local artists are incorporating elements of the flag in their work. Check @WichitaFlag on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Post your pictures and comments using #WichitaFlag.

Flushed with Flag Fever

Angie Elliott, Manager of Business Services for the Chamber, is quoted in the magazine article.

Angie Elliott, Manager of Business Services for the Chamber, is quoted in the magazine article. (Photo credit – Tyler Cooper with Wichita Magazine.)

Wichita Magazine’s August issue arrived this week and the cover story is titled, Flag Fever. The six-page article about Wichita’s official city flag includes interviews with several Chamber employees. Chamber Manager of Business Services, Angie Elliott, is even described by writer and photographer Tyler Cooper as “something of a flag activist” for her recent blog and editorial about rediscovering the flag and its significance.

Angie and other Chamber staff and members have been urging fans of Wichita to use social media to share why they love the city and the values represented by Wichita’s own flag. Wichita City Councilman Bryan Frye is among those who proudly wear a flag pin on a daily basis. He states in the article, “Wichita has always struggled with promoting itself. Too often, we’re shy and worried about being seen as boastful or arrogant. Absent of mountains or oceans, we can point to our city flag and what it represents–freedom, happiness and home–as representation of the people and places that make Wichita special.”

Read more about the flag’s history and how the flag ranks among other city flags when you pick up your copy of the magazine at Watermark Books, Dillons, or Whole Foods. Watermark Books also carries flag t-shirts, mugs and buttons.

You can follow @WichitaFlag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see posts about why people love Wichita and the exotic places the flag has been spotted outside of the city limits. Be part of spreading flag fever and share your own pictures and the reasons you love our city by using #WichitaFlag.

Waving Wichita’s Flag

City of Wichita

Post pictures of your organization flying Wichita’s official flag to @WichitaFlag on Twitter and Instagram.

In case you missed it, today’s Wichita Eagle Business Today section has an editorial by Angie Elliott about Wichita’s official city flag. Angie is the Manager of Business Services for the Chamber and has been part of a recent grassroots movement to elevate the flag’s prominence in our city’s landscape. She’s always been one of Wichita’s most vocal advocates and a Wichita flag lapel pin is now an essential part of her wardrobe. She’s found it to be the perfect entrée into daily discussions about what people love about Wichita.

Angie has enthusiastically swept the rest of us up into her project to educate Wichitans about the flag. We’re now flying it daily at the Chamber building and we distributed flag lapel pins to all of our Board members at our monthly meeting in June.

As we approach Wichita’s birthday on July 21, we hope you’ll join us in posting flag images to the @WichitaFlag Instagram and Twitter accounts. Be sure to use #WichitaFlag and include the reasons you love Wichita. It’s an easy way to demonstrate our pride in the people, organizations, businesses, and places that make Wichita so special.

Waving the Flag of Wichita

With Flag Day approaching this Sunday, June 14, we wanted to share the message behind Wichita’s (often unknown) flag. Our Manager of Business Services Angie Elliott has prepared the post below about what the flag means to her.

Angie Elliott

Angie Elliott

Let’s play a flag game. I’ll mention a flag and you visualize it.

  • The United States flag. Got it! Too easy.
  • The Canadian flag. Of course you know that one too.
  • The Olympic flag. Oh yeah, the five rings.
  • The Wichita flag…. Huh?

Don’t feel bad if an image of the Wichita flag doesn’t immediately come to mind. You’re in the majority. Today, I’m quite pleased to introduce it to you. But first, humor me just a moment longer. Try to visualize the Wichita flag, based on its description below.

“Three red and three white rays alternate from an off-center blue sun. The rays are the path of freedom to come and go as one pleases. The blue disc represents happiness, contentment. Stitched on the blue sun is an Indian symbol for hogan or permanent home. It’s a white circle with four sets of three parallel rays emanating from the circle’s principal axis.”

You can see the flag image here. Is it what you pictured? You may have seen it around town but not realized its significance. It was the winning design by a local artist, Cecil McAlister, in a 1937 city flag contest and was accepted by proclamation on June 14, 1937, Flag Day.

Truth is, by reading the description, I really wanted you to think about the design’s meaning, not just visualize the image. I imagine the feelings Cecil incorporated in his design were a commentary on what he valued about his city. Freedom, Happiness, Contentment, Home.

I wear a Wichita flag lapel pin. When someone asks what it is, I share a little knowledge and offer them their own pin. I always wonder if, by taking the pin, they’re just being polite, or if they find special meaning in this little point of Wichita pride. What is it they find valuable about Wichita?

Each of us experience this city differently. My experience as a Wichitan is unique to me. Cecil’s experiences were unique to him. And you have a unique Wichita story, too. The flag is a symbol of pride. Pride in what we share, pride in our differences, pride in why we all work so hard to invest in and build our community.

I share the flag with others because I value their unique Wichita perspective. My appreciation of this city grows when I understand another’s perspective. When I see someone wearing or flying the flag, it makes me smile, and I want to know what part of this city they are celebrating.

Let me know if you’d like a pin. I’m ready to share and I hope you will too.

You can email Angie at