Political Election Season Particularly Enjoyable for Vexillologists

“Flag studiers” pay extra attention to the flag’s role in the political election season.

What exactly is a vexillologist? A vexillologist studies everything about flags, including their development, history, and design. These people have a true passion for flags, and John Hartvigsen is definitely one of them. As the newly elected secretary of the North American Vexillological Association, Hartvigsen often gets asked how exactly someone becomes in an expert in the flag field. His answer, often throwing people off is, “You’re just born one [a vexillologist]. You just have the ‘flag gene.’” John believes his work with flags is simply a part of him. In Utah, he is one of only six vexillologists in the state.


With the election season really heating up, candidates appear to be standing in front of American flags every place they go, whether on TV, in print, or posing for a picture on their website. John actually sites this political tradition as an act that goes way back to campaigns from Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.

Vexillologist American Flags

Hartvigsen enjoys paying close attention to the flags surrounding the candidates, always looking to see if he can spot any mistakes in how the flags are used or displayed. In addition to background flags, recently, candidates seem to wear flag lapel pins too. This keeps the stars and stripes near them at all times. But, it only seems natural for a presidential candidate to want to show off his patriotism to the country he hopes to lead.

Credit: Deseret News

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