A Newberry political consultant noticed something recently that has somehow managed to escape the awareness of this Sidebar reporter for decades: South Carolina’s state flag has an identity crisis.
Apparently, there is no one palmetto tree style that is wrong or right (though one or two may be more right than others). Scott Malyerck testified before senators, and then told The State newspaper, that there should be some uniformity in the design of the state’s famous deep blue flag — especially those flying atop government buildings — bearing a palmetto tree and “crescent moon.” (More on the moon thing in a minute.)
Nothing in the law books breaks down the palmetto tree’s design to a fine science, so we’ve ended up with at least four versions, chosen by various flag manufacturers — skinny trees, fat trees, leafy trees, and leafier trees.
The Senate panel chairman, Sen. John Scott (D-Richland), told the paper he hopes that the Legislature can resolve the issue this spring.
But the tree isn’t the only topic being discussed; there even seems to be some variation in the corner-dwelling crescent (e.g. its distance from the tree, its exact shape), and some debate as to what exactly it is.
David Lauderdale of The Island Packet (Hilton Head) wrote recently that after referring to the flag’s lunula as a “crescent moon,” he was “taken to task” by a reader informing him that it was NOT a moon, but a symbol from a Revolutionary War uniform. This may actually be verifiable, but years ago, a newspaper writer from Charleston called it a “doodad.”
For what it’s worth, this reporter always thought it was a moon, too.
But now that I look at it, I mean, it is shaped like a crescent.
It could pass for a wheat sickle.
And if I stare at it long enough, it also becomes a giant eyeball, intently watching the top of a flagpole.
A clay pot. An astronaut’s helmet. The wings of a phoenix.
My god, what have we started.