Iowa was almost 75 years old before the state banner was adopted by the Legislature. Creation of a state banner had been suggested for years by patriotic organizations, but no action was taken until World War I. The impetus for final adoption of an official state banner originated with Iowa National Guardsmen stationed along the Mexican border during World War I. The Guardsmen saw that units from other states carried official banners and the Iowa Guardsmen said regiments from other states had banners and they felt one was needed to designate their unit and identify their origins. This prompted the state’s Daughters of the American Revolution into action and to design a banner in 1917. The Legislature officially adopted the design in 1921.
Iowa was never in a hurry to adopt a state banner as they felt that there was no need. Iowans, with the memory of the Civil War still fresh in their minds, had not adopted a state banner because they felt a national banner was the only one needed. Approval of the banner was aided by patriotic organizations that launched a campaign to explain that a state banner was not meant to take the place of the national emblem.
The banner, designed by Mrs. Dixie Cornell Gebhardt of Knoxville and a member of the D.A.R., Gebhardt wrote that “Iowa’s banner should embrace the history of its domain from the time of its occupation by the Indians to discovery by the French and purchase from Napoleon by Jefferson, to its admission into the Union, down to the present time. All this should be represented in a design so simple that school children and adults can recognize its symbolism and know that it meant Iowa.” After serving as our state flag for more than 75 years, it is apparent that its designer achieved her goal. Gebhardt explained that the blue stands for loyalty, justice, and truth; the white for purity; and the red for courage. On the white center stripe is an eagle carrying in its beak blue streamers inscribed with the state motto, “Our liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain.” The word Iowa is in red letters just below the streamers.
Specifications of state flag. The banner designed by the Iowa society of the Daughters of the American Revolution and presented to the state is hereby adopted as the state flag for use on all occasions where a state flag may be fittingly displayed. The design consists of three vertical stripes of blue, white, and red, the blue stripe being nearest the staff and the white stripe* being in the center. On the central white stripe is depicted a spreading eagle bearing in its beak blue streamers on which is inscribed the state motto, “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain” in white letters, with the word “Iowa” in red letters below the streamers.
Designed by Mrs. Dixie Cornell Gebhadt, having three vertical stripes blue, white and red the Iowa flag resembles the flag of France. Gehardt explained the meaning of the colors. As well as a reference to the colors of the United States, the color blue stands for loyalty, justice and truth; the white stands for purity; and the red for courage. An eagle is displayed on the white center stripe of the flag. The eagle carries in its beak blue streamers with the state motto,On the white stripe is a bald eagle carrying a blue streamer in its beak. The state motto ” Our Liberties We Prize, and Our Rights We will Maintain” is written on the streamer. The state name “IOWA” is emblazoned in red letters below the eagle.