O P I N I O N
Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.
My name is Adam Hlasny. I’m a husband, father, and Manchester resident who wants this city to make the most of its potential, just like you do. One of the ways I’ve felt we could promote more civic pride in Manchester is by adopting a city flag.
You might not be aware that our city currently does not have an official city flag. Instead, for many years now we’ve used the city seal on a white background to serve as a de facto flag. According to the city archivist there is no record of the city ever officially adopting a flag. I, like many others, think it’s time for a change. Yet, many are still reluctant to get behind this idea, and I’ve heard a lot of misinformation, so I’d like to explain why I think a new city flag is so important.
First, let me address two common misconceptions:
- Adoption of a new flag does not change or usurp the city seal in any way. In Manchester, the flag and seal are currently one and the same. A new flag does not replace our seal. The city seal and our motto, “Labor Vincit” will continue to serve as an inspiration, a somber reminder of the countless years’ labor that made our city a worldwide dynamo, as well as a symbol of Manchester’s natural features. The city seal will continue to appear on official city documents and be used, as it has in the past, at official city functions. Adopting a new flag just augments the seal and provides us with a visual symbol of the city that is instantly recognizable at a distance.
- The entire costs of the contest to adopt a new flag has been borne by volunteers at no cost to the city. The notion that this contest has taken up city time and money at the expense of other, more important matters, is completely false.
Let me offer five reasons why the adoption of a new city flag is a worthwhile activity:
- Manchester currently does not have a city flag. Do you feel compelled to fly the current city seal outside your home or business? Don’t you think we deserve a city flag that you would want to fly? A flag that would make you proud of our city?
- The current seal-on-a-white-background is ineffective. Having a complex seal flying anywhere outdoors actually does a disservice to our city. It demeans the very symbolism and historic value our seal represents. Put simply, one cannot possibly appreciate our seal when it’s flying 10 or 20 feet skyward.
- The current flag is not widely used around Manchester. How often have you seen our city flag? Yes, it is displayed at City Hall, the Police Department, SNHU Arena, outside the Bridge Café, at the airport, at Granite Square, and a few other locations. That’s it. A new, more compelling design would provide city residents and business owners with a more memorable visual reminder of our city.
- The flag contest brought out designs from Manchester’s best and brightest. Entrants included six-year olds, high school students, professional designers, and seniors alike. We received 159 submissions from Manchester residents alone, as well as many others from former residents. Knowing their design could possibly be the next flag of Manchester, the enthusiasm among entrants was genuine and contagious.
- There is a broad coalition of support for a new city flag. Institutions as diverse as the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Manchester Historic Association, Manchester School District, the Manchester Arts Commission, and the New Hampshire Institute of Art have been active partners in this initiative and have offered their full support. They all see the value in a new city flag and how it can not only help to instill civic pride but promote economic development in the Queen City.
This year, we have the incredible opportunity to be the first major New England city to reimagine its city flag. This November, the citizens of Manchester will have an opportunity at the ballot box to choose their new flag from among the three final, recommended designs, or leave the current status quo intact. Either way, our beloved city seal will remain unchanged and continue to appear on aldermanic chamber walls, city stationery, and other places where its symbolism and tradition can be appreciated.
Let’s imagine a day when Manchester school kids can eagerly raise a city flag along with Old Glory over Smyth Road or Gossler Park Elementary; when moms and dads are reminded of Manchester pride while attending events at Livingston Park or JFK Coliseum; and when travelers to the Queen City can purchase a T-shirt, flag decal, or other item that proudly features our new city flag as a way to commemorate their visit to Manchester. In my opinion, a great city deserves a great flag. Let it fly.
Beg to differ? Agree to disagree? Send in your counterpoint, or find your own soapbox to stand on. Submissions welcome. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line: The Soapbox.
Adam Hlasny (pronounced LAZ-nee), is a New Hampshire native and Saint Anselm College graduate who’s been fascinated with flags and their symbolism since childhood. After living in Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut for several years, he returned to Manchester in 2012 with his wife and young daughter, to enjoy all that NH has to offer.