Song for the Alaska flag


Still looking for a comprehensive — and accurate — list of states that have official pledges. The search is occasionally illuminating (as are all genuine quests for knowledge).

For example, I knew Alaska’s flag was designed by a student, Benny Benson. I had not realized that it was adopted in the Coolidge administration, though, and not much closer to statehood in 1959.

More, Alaska has a song to its flag. I suspect the song is sung less often than Texas’s pledge is made (well, Texas requires school kids to say the pledge every day). But it’s a bit more poetic, isn’t it?

Alaska flag, Wikimedia, by Dave Johnson

Alaska’s song to the flag is below the fold. A link to an MP3 recording of the song is available here.

Words for Alaska’s Flag Song

    Eight stars of gold on a field of blue —
    Alaska’s flag. May it mean to you
    The blue of the sea, the evening sky,
    The mountain lakes, and the flow’rs nearby;
    The gold of the early sourdough dreams,
    The precious gold of the hills and streams;
    The brilliant stars in the northern sky,
    The Bear–the Dipper– and,
    shining high, the great North Star with its steady light,
    Over land and sea a beacon bright.
    Alaska’s flag–to Alaskans dear,
    The simple flag of a last frontier.
    The simple flag of the last frontier.

— Marie Drake

Second verse

    A Native lad chose the Dipper’s stars
    For Alaska’s flag that there be no bars

    Among our culture. Let it be known
    Through years the Native’s past has grown
    To share life’s treasures, hand in hand,
    To keep Alaska our Great-Land;
    We love the northern midnight sky,
    The mountains, lakes and streams nearby.
    The great North Star with its steady light
    Will guide all cultures, clear and bright,
    With nature’s flag to Alaskans dear,
    The simple flag of the last frontier.

     

The University of Alaska holds the copyright to the song. For further information, contact the University Archivist at the Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-6808.

Official description from Alaska Code Sec. 44.09.020. State flag.

18 Responses to Song for the Alaska flag

  1. […] Alaska’s state flag came from the imagination of a 13-year-old Aleut, Benny Benson, winning a contest to design the state’s flag.  Alaska’s flag stands out in any display of U.S. state flags. […]

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  2. […] Alaska’s state flag came from the imagination of a 13-year-old Inuit, Benny Benson, winning a contest to design the state’s flag.  Alaska’s flag stands out in any display of U.S. state flags. […]

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  3. […] “Song for the Alaska flag” 1895 Rand McNally map of Alaska – Wikipedia image Map of the Alaska Highway, from Milepost.com Share this:TwitterStumbleUponDiggRedditFacebookEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

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  4. Cindy says:

    As indicated above, Alaska’s Flag is still in use in schools, although I’ve found its use has declined across the Anchorage School District, and it’s certainly not mandatory here. In the 1980s, we sung it as part of our morning routine at elementary schools in both Valdez and Anchorage. I don’t recall anyone being coerced into doing so, however.

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  5. Pinera says:

    Do you tweet and have a twitter account so I can follow you?

    Like

  6. Alexis says:

    I stumbled on this looking for a recording of the state song, and I just wanted to note that actually the flag song gets sung a lot, given that children in Anchorage public schools all learn it. I can still remember all the words, after only two years in Anchorage, and I used to be able to play the thing on the recorder.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. mpb says:

    In case the trachkback doesn’t come through– the State library did track down another copy of both verses sung. Updated here

    http://13c4.wordpress.com/2007/06/11/alaska-state-song-verses-wanted

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  8. […] Alaska’s state song, both verses wanted 11 06 2007 Dave, a reader of Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub, was looking for a recording of both verses of the Alaska state song. Ed Darrell, bathtub incarnate, was able to track down a version of Fred Waring’s chorale singing the first verse. To get a copy, contact him at https://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2007/01/12/song-for-the-alaska-flag/ […]

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  9. Ed Darrell says:

    I have heard back from the archives at the Penn State University:

    Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians performed ‘Alaska Flag Song’
    several times throughout the 1940s on their radio programs. We have
    the recordings of those radio programs, which date from 1942, 1946,
    1947 and 1948. We could make you a special recording of these
    performances, if you are interested.

    Fred Waring was extremely careful about copyright — he took a decade off of recording until the issue of broadcast rights was worked out, rather than record stuff that could be played for free — and so I expect there would be significant cost associated with this. Also, these recordings would include only the first verse (but I suspect they are great arrangements).

    How many people would be interested? Please leave a comment with a good e-mail address (which won’t be published), if you are interested.

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  10. Ed Darrell says:

    Wow, Pam! Digging out that video is an outstanding accomplishment!

    One of Fred Waring’s groups — the Pennsylvanians or the Glee Club, not sure which — recorded the first verse in about 1955. As best I can tell, that recording is not available anywhere right now. I’ve got queries in to the governor’s office and to Penn State (Waring’s archives) — but I wonder whether there isn’t some grand choir that records these songs for broadcast use. Anybody know?

    Like

  11. mpb says:

    http://www.museum.state.ak.us/EightStars/media.html This has a video of the former Lt Gov singing the song.

    “Alaska Flag and Song The design for the Alaska flag was selected in a contest for Alaska students in grades seven through twelve in 1926. The winning design, submitted by 13-year-old Benny Benson, consisted of eight gold stars on a field of blue, representing the Big Dipper and the North Star.The Alaska Legislature adopted the design as the official flag for the Territory of Alaska on May 2, 1927. Later the drafters of the Alaska constitution stipulated that the territorial flag would become the official flag of the State of Alaska.The words to the song Alaska’s Flag were written by Marie Drake, a long-time employee of the Alaska Department of Education, and first appeared as a poem in 1935. The poem was set to music composed by Elinor Dusenbury, whose husband was commander of Chilkoot Barracks at Haines from 1933-1936. The Territorial Legislature adopted Alaska’s Flag as Alaska’s official song in 1955.

    Permission is not needed to reproduce the image of the state flag. However, The University of Alaska holds the copyright to the song. For further information, contact the University of Alaska Foundation, 910 Yukon Drive, Suite 206, PO Box 755080, Fairbanks, AK 99775.
    phone: 907.450.8030
    fax: 907.450.8031
    Email: sdfnd@alaska.edu
    http://sled.alaska.edu/akfaq/aksymb.html

    Dial-up is slow so here are unconfirmed alternatives
    “Sports Reporting, Midnight Sun Baseball, Click here to listen to the report. [5.5mb .mp3] ” http://www.kuac.org/mp3/MidnightSun.mp3
    “1st: “Midnight Sun Baseball,” by Libby Casey, KUAC. Comments: Libby did a lovely job of providing the listener with a great sense of place, history and character. She took us to the game with good sound and writing, and quickly established why Midnight Sun Baseball is unique. There was great tape – I think of the first character, Red Boucher (sp?), who runs the Alaska League – his voice just makes you smile. Another funny moment…and we LOVE funny in radio!!!….was the player who talked about being “freaked out” by playing at that time of day. At about the 4 minute mark, I’d had my fill of listening to people talking about baseball and the uniqueness of Alaska and this event – my ear needed a change in direction. Libby expertly DID THAT…giving us the beautiful rendition of the Alaska State Song. It was a great little moment. All in all, a very nice piece of radio…and a worthy first place winner!! ”
    http://www.alaskapressclub.org/index.php/awards/alaska_press_club_awards_2006_brannounced_4_21_07_2_of_2

    http://www.akrepublicans.org/pastlegs/22ndleg/audio/akflagsong.ra
    # The Alaska Chamber Singers sing the first verse to Alaska’s Flag Song
    http://prairiehome.publicradio.org/programs/19960302/

    I can’t find a reference to passed legislation.

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  12. mpb says:

    I know there was a version in one of the Alaska Native languages and I have heard a sung version on radio (APRN.org). Will keep checking

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  13. Ed Darrell says:

    By the way, the best I can find is that the legislation to make official the second verse failed in the Alaska legislature in 2002 and 2003. Was it ever successful?

    According to Findlaw.com, “Sec. 44.09.040. State song” does not include the second verse of the song.

    Did the second verse movement die out? Alaskans, can you help us on this?

    Like

  14. Ed Darrell says:

    I have been unable to locate one as well, though I doubt I have been so diligent as you, Dave!

    Have you tried the U.S. Senators from Alaska, in Washington? Have you tried the Alaska Department of Economic Development, which has the .midi file for the rest of the song? I cannot find any recording of the song, even on Amazon.

    If such a recording exists, it is tucked away mighty well, not searchable on the web on standard searches. I wish I could offer a prize to find a recording, but if anyone finds one, would you let us know here, so Dave can get it?

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  15. Dave says:

    I’ve been searching all over the web, for more than four (4) hours, attempting to find a sound file in MP3, WAV, or WMA format, of the Alaska State Song, with BOTH VERSES sang. I can’t find it anywhere! Do you know if there is one available anywhere?

    Like

  16. Ed Darrell says:

    Who is the author of the second verse — the same woman?

    Thank you for the information. I have updated the post to show the second verse.

    Like

  17. mpb says:

    It’s very important to note the state song has a second verse, recently made official.

    http://tinyurl.com/y4sqm3

    http://www.alaska.edu/opa/eInfo/index.xml?StoryID=188

    Alaska’s Flag Second Verse

    A Native lad chose the Dipper’s stars

    For Alaska’s flag that there be no bars

    Among our culture. Let it be known

    Through years the Native’s past has grown

    To share life’s treasures, hand in hand,

    To keep Alaska our Great-Land;

    We love the northern midnight sky,

    The mountains, lakes and streams nearby.

    The great North Star with its steady light

    Will guide all cultures, clear and bright,

    With nature’s flag to Alaskans dear,

    The simple flag of the last frontier.

    [Now if we can just get the City of Bethel Alaska to follow the state’s constitution by eliminating the City’s religious oath of office and official subsidy of churches, and apologize for keeping secret dossiers on elders who stand up for their rights.]

    Like

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