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History of The Vermont Green Mountain Boys’ Flag

  • Published
  • By Dan DiPietro
  • 158th Fighter Wing

SOUTH BURLINGTON, VT -- From the windswept valleys to the green peaks of Vermont, a flag flutters—a symbol of resistance, liberty, and state pride. The Green Mountain Boys' flag, originally known as the Stark flag, is not just a piece of fabric but a testament to Vermont's vibrant history intertwined with the struggles of the American Revolution. Over centuries, this emblem has transcended its origins, becoming a beacon for Vermonters, reminding them of the challenges their fore-bearers faced and the undying spirit they bore.

The Green Mountain Boys flag owes its design lineage to other flags of the American Revolution. Central to this history is the flag that belonged to John Stark, a general during the American Revolution. Stark led troops at the Battle of Bennington in 1777 bearing what is believed to be the first version of the Green Mountain Boy flag.

One militia that prominently adopted this spirit of courage and resilience was the Green Mountain Boys. This group of settlers played pivotal roles during the American Revolution. Though technically under New York's control by British decree, they neither acknowledged the laws imposed by the Brits nor were they deterred by them. Instead, under the leadership of figures like Ethan Allen, Ira Allen, and Seth Warner, the Green Mountain Boys rallied to the American cause. Their military feats, such as the capture of Ticonderoga and contributions during the Battles of Bennington and Hubbardton, showcased their strategic significance. These successes were not just military victories but also symbolic triumphs over their oppressors, further highlighting their desire for freedom and autonomy. The flag they rallied behind became an embodiment of these ideals and values.

The Green Mountain Boys' flag, with its vibrant green field and blue canton adorned with thirteen stars, one for each of the rebelling colonies, is a vivid representation of both the region and the broader American Revolution. The green in the flag represents the lush landscapes of the Green Mountains beside Lake Champlain, serving as a reminder of Vermont's natural beauty. Meanwhile, the thirteen stars, symbolizes the original American colonies, underline Vermont's integral role in the birth of a new nation.

Given the fragmented historical records, the flag's complete original design remains a subject of debate. The Bennington Museum holds in its collection remnants of what's believed to be the original flag along with reproductions. This serves as a tangible link to the past and stands as a testament to the flag's historical importance. While the exact design details of the flag from 1777 remain lost to antiquity, the predominant blue-and-green version has become the most accepted and recognized version.

As the country approached its bicentennial celebrations in the late 20th century, a renewed interest in revolutionary symbols emerged. It was during this time that the Green Mountain Boys flag saw a resurgence in prominence. The sentiment and nostalgia surrounding historical celebrations have further cemented this version in the public imagination. Despite the uncertainties in historical records, this iteration of the flag has come to symbolize state patriotism for Vermonters and has since become known as the Green Mountain Boys flag.

In more recent history, the flag has gained wider use in 2004 when members of the Vermont Army National Guard began to deploy overseas. Major General Martha Rainville, then the Vermont Adjutant General, presented the flag to deploying Vermont Guardsmen. This increased visibility of the Green Mountain Boys flag highlighting it as an emblem not only of historical significance but also of the present-day values and pride of Vermonters.

The Vermont National Guard continues to proudly display what is now known as the Green Mountain Boys’ flag. This isn't just an adaption of an historical emblem, but a nod to the enduring spirit and resilience that the original colonial minutemen epitomized. When the National Guard is deployed or partakes in ceremonial functions, the flag is prominently featured, bridging Vermont's revolutionary past to its present-day commitment to defense and service.

In every flutter and fold of the flag, the spirit of Green Mountain Boys, who carved out an enduring identity against all odds, remains alive. Today, as the flag waves over Vermont—be it at National Guard deployments, state ceremonies, or local celebrations—it serves as a powerful reminder of the state's rich history and its undying spirit of resilience and freedom. The legacy of the Green Mountain Boys lives on, echoing their unwavering call for liberty and justice.