A people’s flag embodies their greatest values. This is based on their greatest victories as well as the challenges they faced. The Haiti flag was designed with this in mind. The flag is comprised of two equal horizontal parts. The first part is blue, which is paralleled by the red part. Embossed in the middle of the flag is the Haiti court of arms which is overlain on a white square. The court of arms consists of a palm tree with the liberty cap cresting on the palm frond. At the base of the tree is a trophy consisting of machetes and canons which has the legend “in union there is strength”.
What does the Haiti flag symbolize?
The Haitians are a people who were colonized, but who later gained their independence in 1804. According to historians, the flag they have symbolizes the unity that the mulatto people have with the blacks in their fight for independence. This unity is depicted in the union of the two colors, blue and red. The colors were derived from the French flag which had its white strip removed to give the blue and red. Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who was then leader of the black rebels, is the one who removed the white stripe.
The Haiti Flag History
At the time of the Haiti flag’s birth in 1803, the people of Haiti had been united by their bond to end colonization on their island by the French. The flag did not have the court of arms and neither did it hold the legend “in union there is strength”. It being that it was in the time when the black and mulattos were fighting for their liberation, Jacques Dessalines ordered that the flag have the inscription, “freedom or death” over the blue and red vertical stripes.
January 1st 1984 saw the generals of the revolution change the stripes of the flag to be horizontal. This was the official Haiti flag and was so recognized in the constitution in 1843 by article 192. In May of 1805, Dessalines changed the flag to black and red vertical stripes. These depicted death and freedom respectively. He was able to accomplish this change as he had proclaimed himself emperor in October of 1804. Dessalines was later assassinated on October 7th 1806. This action divided the country into two for a total of 14 years; the north was then ruled by Henri Christophe and the south and west by Alexandre Petion. Petion reverted back to the original Haiti flag to which he added the court of arms and inscribed the legend “in union there is strength”.
- The Haitian flag underwent four more complete changes before it reverted back to its original design done by Petion.
- The changes to the Haiti flag have depicted changes in leadership.
- Dessalines’ relative, Catherine Flon, is the one tasked with the duty of sweing the two parts of the revolution flag in 1803.
- It is said that the whole origin of the flag originated from the Vodun religion. Blue and red are said to be the colors of the god of war, Ogou, while the court of arms is said to be derived from the same symbols from a vodun temple.