Missouri flag design subject of potential study - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Missouri flag design subject of potential study

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Brendan Koch's proposal for the Missouri state flag. Brendan Koch's proposal for the Missouri state flag.
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

Designed in Cape Girardeau nearly 101 years ago, the Missouri State Flag could see some changes.

Legislation is under consideration that would create a team to study to flag.

Now the home's current owners where the flag was 'born' and others passionate about preserving Cape Girardeau's history want to know why.

"When I first heard it I thought it was a joke," said Mary Ann Kellerman.

Mary Ann Keller man says she couldn't believe it when she learned a house committee may consider legislation to study the Missouri state flag.

"I just couldn't understand why anyone would want to alter it or even question it at all," said Kellerman.

She now lives in the Oliver-Leming home on North Street in Cape Girardeau where the flag was designed and created 100 years ago by Marie Elizabeth Watkins Oliver. Oliver and her husband, a state senator, shared the home for 45 years. They kept extensive records on the plans and history of the home including the flag. In those records, Mrs. Oliver detailed why she designed the flag as she did.

Historians say she explained the red, white, and blue represent the United States but also Missouri's rich French heritage and the two bears on the flag symbolize the strength and courage of the people in Missouri.

"With its 100th birthday approaching on March 22, 2013 it was obvious we had to celebrate the amazing history," said Kellerman.

Kellerman said the amazing documentation on the home overall is a huge part of why she and her husband Bert bought it. They saw a unique opportunity to return it to its original splendor and of course celebrate the flag. From the beginning they planned to one day leave the residence to Cape Girardeau as a museum.

Now, she says anyone who would want to change the flag doesn't understand what a treasure the symbol is for Cape Girardeau and state history over all.

"It's a chance along with the flag and the home to give Missouri a more complete set of history than perhaps any other home in the country. With all the hundreds, of pages of documentation it's all here," said Kellerman.

According to Representative Jeff Roorda's office who is sponsoring the potential bill, a committee would not study changing the flag, but unifying it or standardizing the symbol.

Roorda's representatives say it all stems from a proposal written by a 17-year-old home school student from Jefferson County who says he has studied flags and feels the Missouri flag needs another look. He says he the loves the flag but calls it busy and in need of change. In the proposal, author Brendan Koch says his design "honors the past by taking the Missouri side of the seal, the new moon - white in a blue field - representing the possibilities of our state and the bear...representing the strength of the people and the sovereignty of the state divided by a diagonal white, wavy line - representing the Missouri River." He says he feels the a design such as he suggests honors the past and yet gives young people a voice.

According to Governor Jay Nixon's office, spokesperson Scott Holste says: "The Governor believes the current flag has a classic look that has held up well and compares very favorably with other state flags."

Kellerman says she sees no reason to put forth any changes to the flag, and it should stay the way Mrs. Oliver intended.

"I just hope whoever is studying the flag if it comes to that takes note of the amazing historical significance."

The home also has ties to Academic Hall as it was designed by the same architect. Kellerman and her husband remain passionate about preserving local and state history through the Kellerman Foundation for Historic Preservation. The home is also featured by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, as part of the National Registry of Historic Places. Kellerman says plans are in the works to share the home more extensively with the community to raise awareness of the unique treasure in Cape Girardeau.

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