Celebrate Alaska Flag Day - July 9

Photo of Benny Benson superimposed with Alaska Flag

Did you know that Alaska has the only state flag designed by a child? In 1927 the Alaska Department of the American Legion sponsored a contest for Alaskan children in grades seven through twelve to design a territorial flag. 13-year-old Benny Benson was living at the Jesse Lee Home for children in Seward, Alaska when he won the contest. He explained his simple, elegant design like this: "The blue field is for the Alaska sky and the forget-me-not, an Alaskan flower. The North Star is for the future state of Alaska, the most northerly in the union. The Dipper is for the Great Bear — symbolizing strength." July 9 was named Alaska Flag Day in honor of the first raising of Benny's flag in Seward on July 9, 1927. Benny was awarded $1,000 in prize money, a gold watch and a trip to Washington DC, and spent the rest of his days as a local celebrity. When Alaska became a state 32 years later, Benny's flag became the official flag for the State of Alaska.

The Anchorage Public Library has books about Benny, his flag and many other moments in Alaska history.