It isn't often that state flags are in the news. Louisiana recently passed a statute making it mandatory that the pelican on its flag be pictured with a bloody breast. With that requirement, the flag went through a redesign. No major changes, just a more elegant and professional rendition of the state seal. It was officially unfurled yesterday.
Louisiana's seal consists of what is known in heraldry as "a pelican in its piety." According to medieval legend, a pelican is so attentive to its young it vulns its breast to feed its young. Vuln is a very old fashioned word for pierce. When the state adopted this symbol the mother pelican was meant to represent the government sacrificing its blood for its citizens. It is a noble concept though a bit difficult to grasp.
The state's website doesn't feature the new flag and the state seal isn't being updated, only the flag. Here's what the old flag looks like....
You'll notice the three drops of blood on this rendition of the old flag. The problem was that the blood was not required. Some flags had it and some didn't. It was a good excuse for a schoolboy to write a letter to his congressman and get a bill passed. At least a more attractive flag came out of the process. I like the new one.
Remember, the study of flags is vexillology. You can use that in the next conversation when you use the word "vuln."