A Tribute to Flags

The flag has a long and colorful past.  In addition, race fans can attest to a flag's checkered past.  But most will agree: no matter which way the wind blows, a flag's ability to convey information is important.

There has always been a need for swift and reliable communication.  In ancient times, messages were carried by foot or by rider.  But messages could also be transmitted optically.  The Greeks used smoke and torches to quickly convey information over great distances.  Other semaphores (i.e., a system or device for signaling) used rods and shutters to communicate letters, numbers, and words.  With the use of a telescope and code book, a message could be speedily delivered.  Soon the elctromagnetic telegraph opened the gate to the high-speed communication systems we know and love today.

And through it all, the flag has stood its ground.

Flags are used by private, government, and military sectors to communicate information.  Some of the earliest flags were used on the battlefield as symbols.  Additionally, flags have long been used to signal information at sea.  Flags are everywhere and their importance was officially recognized by the International Federation of Vexillological Associations (FAIV) formed in 1967 in Switzerland.  The FAIV an organization of vexillologists (people who study flags) and vexillographers (people who design flags), strives to standardize knowledge of flags and eliminate misunderstandings. . .perhaps about their checkered past.

FAIV members are not the only ones waving flags about flags. In 1980, the American Public Works Association (APWA) created a uniform color code that assigns specific colors to various utilities so that these utilities can be properly identified and flagged. Because site work involves excavation that can damage existing utilities, utility locators can be called to place colored flags at the location of these buried utilities. This is as easy as a phone call. . . literally one call.

APWA's color code of utilities
Red - Electric Orange - Communication       White - Proposed Excavation
Green - Sewer      Purple - Reclaimed Water Pink - Temporary Survey Marking
Blue - Water    


"One Call" is a part of the Dig Safely program, a collaborative effort between utility providers, the government, and the public.  When you dial 811, you are put in touch with One Call, which in turn contacts the various utility providers with services in the area to be excavated, graded, bored, etc.  Within one week, locators will mark the existing utilities or report the utilities as "not present."  Once all locators have signed off, work can begin.

Thanks to the locators and their fair weather flags, we can all Dig Safely.

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union jill @
03:12PM on March 05, 2009
did you know that the word "jack" historically meant "flag"? The "Union Jack" is the flag that represents the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In 1606, the Union Jack's design incorporated some design elements from the flags of England and Scotland, and it was primarily flown at sea. In 1801, the design incorporated elements from Ireland's St. Patricks flag. Just more vexing vexillogical facts and fun flag fanfare.
Curtis Yoder @
02:28PM on February 26, 2009
Just wanted to say thanks to all the little flags... :-)
kia ricchi @
05:56AM on February 15, 2009
By the way, the next time you pass a BLUE REFLECTIVE PAVEMENT MARKER, look for the adjacent fire hydrant that it is marking. A fire engine uses these pavement markers to quickly locate the fire hydrant during an emergency. Another significant semaphore.
Nautilus1 @
09:23PM on January 22, 2009
Just wish to thank all the flags for a job well done.
osceola county maintenance @
11:08PM on January 16, 2009
Has anyone noticed flags missing at the corner of 5th and Orange?
Betsy Ross @
09:01PM on January 16, 2009
Although plastic has demonstrated a superior ability to withstand Mother Nature's sever hand, I find cotton-that is...U.S cotton- to be the better material. It colors well and the textural quality far exceeds that of plastic. Sew that's all there is to it.
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