The Iowa State Flag was designed by Dixie Cornell Gebhardt, a Knoxville native and member of the Iowa society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The flag was originally designed as a regimental flag for Iowa guardsmen serving along the Mexican border in 1917. The Iowa Assembly adopted the design as the official state banner on March 29, 1921.
Dixie Cornell 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 . . . in a design so simple that school children and adults can recognize its symbolism and know that it meant Iowa.”
The flag is patterned after the blue, white and red flag of France, a country which ruled Iowa twice before Iowa became a state. The blue in the banner symbolizes loyalty, the white purity, and the red courage.
Iowa’s entrance into statehood into the United States of America is represented on the flag by a blue streamer, on which is inscribed the state motto, “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain”, carried by a soaring eagle, the symbol of America.
To many, Dixie Cornell Gebhardt is Iowa’s Betsy Ross, and she and her efforts have been memorialized by a marker on the southeastern corner of the Marion County Courthouse lawn.
The State flag is a source of pride for all Iowans and especially for the citizens of Knoxville, and Iowa State Flag Day is always celebrated on March 29.
In an annual tradition, children from Northstar Elementary School in Knoxville have colored the Iowa State Flags, which are currently on display in downtown Knoxville businesses. The Knoxville Historic Preservation Commission encourages those who are interested to stop by the businesses to appreciate the children’s work.