Today, March 29, is Iowa State Flag Day. The Iowa State Flag was designed by none other than Knoxville’s Dixie Cornell Gebhardt.
Gebhardt was born Nov. 18, 1866, to Dr. Norman Riley and Mary Timmonds Cornell in Knoxville. In 1900, she married George Tullis Gebhardt. They had no children.
Gebhardt received word from Iowa soldiers, in which they told tales of soldiers from other states proudly waving their state flags. Iowa had no state flag at that time.
It has been reported that Gebhardt spent eight years with Iowa Daughters of the American Revolution groups to plan the design of the flag. Her design was to reflect the history, present and future of the State of Iowa.
The blue, white and red color scheme represents the nation’s colors in reverse, but also the colors of the French banner, which was the first flag to fly in the land that was to become Iowa.
The white on the flag represents the unwritten page of history Iowa has been filling since its statehood and the virgin beauty of the state’s land. The red pays tribute to the American Indian who favored the color. In the center of the flag is the United States’ national bird, the eagle, who carries its own banner displaying Iowa’s motto: “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.”
Gebhardt’s design for the flag was approved by the DAR Flag Committee in 1917. It was initially used to identify Iowa military units in 1917-18.
On Oct. 30, 1917, the flag was presented to Iowa Gov. W.L. Harding, after being approved that May by Harding and the State Council of Defense. At the time of the adoption of the flag by the Iowa Legislature on March 29, 1921, Gebhardt presented her gift to the State of Iowa, which was the copyright to her flag design.
Gebhardt passed away on Oct. 16, 1955, after an 18-month stay in Collins Memorial Hospital.