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 aelliott@wichitachamber.org.