Tennessee's State Flag - what the Tri-Star means
Lee Roy Reeves, the designer of the Tennessee State Flag, was born in Johnson City in June 1876. Reeves became interested in creating a state flag during his years as an officer in the Tennessee National Guard. In June 1903 he organized a company for the National Guard's Third Regiment, based in Johnson City, and was commissioned a captain. Two years later, Reeves approached several legislators with his flag design and asked them to sponsor legislation to have the flag designated as the official Tennessee State Flag. The general assembly approved the bill on April 17, 1905.
The three stars are of pure white, representing the three grand divisions of the state. They are bound together by the a circle of the blue, the symbol being bound together in one–a lasting trinity. The large field is crimson. The final blue bar relieves the sameness of the crimson field and prevents the flag from showing too much crimson when hanging limp. The white edgings contrast the other colors.
Tennessee state law dictates on how the center emblem is drawn on the flag.
"The arrangement of the three stars shall be such that the centers of no two stars shall be in a line parallel to either the side or the end of the flag, but intermediate between the same; and the highest star shall be the one nearest the upper confined corner of the flag."
What are the Grand Divisions? The three stars represent the three Grand Divisions of the state, East Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and West Tennessee. All three divisions are sharply contrasting geographical divisions as well as culturally and economically distinct.
East Tennessee is defined by the Great Smoky Mountains, the Cumberland Plateau and the narrow valleys and forested hills. Farming was restricted by this landscape and two of the states most industrialized cities are in East Tennessee; Chattanooga and Knoxville.
Middle Tennessee is known for its rolling landscape; bluegrass country. Defined by the circuitous path of the Tennessee River, Middle Tennessee is ideal for raising livestock and dairy farming and is known for its fine horses and mules.
West Tennessee is where most of the state's cotton is grown. Between the Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers, this is rich river-bottom land.
There are two official salutes to the Tennessee flag, both adopted in 2006:
"Three white stars on a field of blue
God keep them strong and ever true
It is with pride and love that we
Salute the Flag of Tennessee."
The second salute to the Tennessee flag:
"Flag of Tennessee, I salute thee
To thee I pledge my allegiance with
My affection, my service and my life."