Luz Escamilla and Elizabeth Weight: On Flag Day, time for a new flag to unify Utah

Utah’s More Than a Flag initiative is working to design a new state flag all of us can be proud of.

(Rachel Rydalch | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Utah flag waves in the wind and rain at the end of the legislative session on Friday, March 4, 2022.

On June 14, Americans across the country will celebrate the significance of our national flag.

That national observance is a great opportunity for Utahns to consider the design of our own state flag. It’s a chance to be reminded of the power a flag can have the connections it creates.

For the past six months, the Utah State Flag Task Force has been listening to Utahns talk about what symbols and colors might serve to represent all of us on a new state flag. As members of the statewide More Than A Flag initiative, we’ve often heard the question: Why a new Utah state flag?

While the answer is multifaceted, for the two of us the answer can be boiled down to one word: unity.

When we started working on the task force under Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, we were both hesitant about the need to re-envision our state flag. What would be the purpose? Our current flag reflects a rich history of our state, with an abundance of symbolism.

Enthusiastic exchanges throughout the state have brought us realize that much of the current symbolism represents a distinct point in our history. Our state has changed a lot since the present flag was adopted in 1913. Our values endure – hard work, innovation, community and a sense of belonging — but as a state, we have grown and evolved.

Utah is known for its unmatched beauty, friendliness and economic opportunity. The process to consider a new state flag has made participants thoughtful about what unites us as Utahns — today.

More Than A Flag gives us a chance to hear from people of all ages and backgrounds, suggesting the most meaningful symbols that might serve as a source of pride and common identity.

Thinking about a new flag doesn’t diminish our past. Instead, the invitation for new design ideas has encouraged people to look at our state in new ways. It has revived interest in our history and spurred conversations about what binds us. We are seeing people build on the history of our original flag, while we all consider symbols that also speak to new generations of Utahns.

Most importantly, this process has inspired our state’s school children. The initiative welcomes everyone to participate, with the only eligibility requirement being a love for Utah. The process invites students to be a part of contemporary history and gives them a stronger sense of inclusion in our state.

We may have different ideologies as state lawmakers, but those of us serving on the flag task force have been focused on inviting statewide participation. That’s why we’re proud to note that we received more than 5,000 digital submissions, with more than a thousand additional designs mailed in from students. We’re particularly excited to report we received designs from all 29 Utah counties.

As Flag Day approaches, we look forward to seeing what proposed flag designs will mean to Utahns across the state. We’re interested in the next conversations about how a new flag can unite us and represent us to the rest of the world.

We encourage Utahns to stay engaged with this process by visiting Flag.Utah.gov. While the formal submission process has ended, the ideas and dialogue continue. Coming up are more opportunities to come together and share thoughts about the meaningfulness of a new Utah flag. We say that’s something to celebrate.

Sen. Luz Escamilla

Sen. Luz Escamilla represents District 1, which includes west Salt Lake City and West Valley City, and serves as Senate Minority Whip. She has worked as a director and vice president at Zions Bank and is co-founder and managing partner of ESCATEC Solutions.

Rep. Elizabeth Weight

Rep. Elizabeth Weight represents District 31, which covers parts of West Valley City. She taught junior and senior high students for more than 30 years, and now volunteers as a docent at the Utah State Capitol.