Mark Hayward's City Matters: As Manchester ponders flag options, city anthem suggestedBy MARK HAYWARD
November 03. 2017 10:09PM
City leaders have decided that the Manchester city flag needs a reboot.
Too many pictures, including a misplaced waterfall and some kind of an outdated tool that only 19th century STEM students would recognize.
Too many words, including a Latin phrase that only 19th century humanities students could decipher.
Just too much stuff crammed into the flag to begin with. Obviously, it was designed by committee. And a committee with no sense of the poetic or symbolic. It so much lacks inspiration that I only see it flying at the place of least inspiration in Manchester — City Hall.
So a bunch of civic leaders — including my predecessor John Clayton, who now heads up the Manchester Historic Association — think our city can do better. They have nominated three selections for a new flag. Along with the current flag, they will be on the ballot for a non-binding vote on Tuesday.
“Designing a flag for Manchester is a great opportunity to represent our city with meaningful imagery that reflects our history and our future,” the committee writes on its website, www.mhtflag.com.
And it notes: “a true city flag should be much more than (the city seal).”
Manchester aldermen adopted the city seal in 1846. I can’t get excited about the city seal. As I noted earlier, there’s too much stuff on it. Another image — a sickle-shaped forearm holding a hammer, which accompanies the city motto “Labor Vincit,” which means “Hard Work Prevails.”
Hard work. Is that all Manchester can say for itself? In a country whose motto is “In God We Trust,” and a state whose best-of-all mottos is “Live Free or Die,” Manchester’s highest valor is in bustin’ our humps for the boss?
Democracies honor God, freedom, truth and justice. Totalitarian regimes praise work. (“Workers of the world unite,” Marx tells us.)
Yet our motto is our motto. I suspect it will remain, even if we do change our flag.
We have a flag. We have a motto. But we still lack something: an anthem.
A municipal anthem that human resource directors can loop on replay in background music throughout city work places. An anthem that, like The Star-Spangled Banner, notes the heart-wrenching sight of the flag during its most threatened times and spells out the ideals it stands for.
Something that will make us proud to stand up at football games, doff our hats and sing loudly.
And nobody better kneel when the band plays it.
"Our Hard Work Banner"
The endless droning we hear
When the budget is ‘nigh:
City pols makin’ speeches
While my taxes stay high.
Far above their lofty talk,
Our banner entails
Advice to her citizens:
Hard Work Prevails.
In our Millyard cubicles
Or our jobs at the store
Or shov’ling snow in winter
Ne’er we ponder: what for?
No talk of bravery here,
Or words of freedom’s fight.
Our hard work prevails
To the bossman’s delight.
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Mark Hayward’s City Matters appears Saturdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader and UnionLeader.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.