Officially adopted as the national flag in 1948 but originally designed and flown in 1918, Guam’s flag is both aesthetically pleasing and rich with historical information. The design is fairly simple-a dark blue flag, a narrow red border (added 30 years after the original design), and the Guam seal in the center. The most fascinating part of the flag is its centerpiece, the seal of Guam. Each portion of the illustration depicted in the seal tells an important piece of Guam’s history.
The almond shape of the seal is a nod to the similarly shaped slingstone, an ancient weapon that was used by the natives of Guam. The scene on the seal portrays a proa (a sailing vessel that, in the past, was the main source for transportation in Guam) sailing through the Hagåtña River. A coconut palm is illustrated along sandy beaches, which is meaningful to Guam as its residents rely heavily upon coconut as a main food source. A beautiful cliff, a representation of the Punta Dos Amantes cliff, can be seen in the distance of the illustration. Finally, the word ‘Guam’ is written across the seal in bold red letters. Remarkably, the only change to the design of the Guam flag was the addition of its narrow red border in 1948.
The history of the national flag of Guam is fairly uncomplicated in relation to other countries’ flags. Guam actually did not acquire its own flag until 1918; the flag of Spain (the original colonizer of Guam) was flown until 1898, and the flag of the United States (Guam is currently a territory of the U.S.) was flown in Guam until 1917. Guam first flew its own national flag at a ceremony on July 4, 1918, though the U.S. flag is still flown alongside it. The flag was first raised in 1918; however, it was not until February 9, 1948 that the flag was officially recognized by Guam’s government.
While the dates for the flag’s inception are not disputed, the inspiration for its design are still questioned. According to historians, there are three likely inspirations for the flag’s unique design: art done by Francisco Feja, a photograph taken from the collection of former Governor Robert Coontz in 1912, and drawings by the wife of Commander Carrol E. Paul, Helen Paul. Regardless of this dispute, it is safe to say that the citizens of Guam admire this respected, historically-rich world flag.