Controversy over a new state logo could indirectly lead to more state legislators reciting an official “Salute to the Tennessee Flag” more often.
Currently, members of the state Senate recite the 28-word statement at the outset of each floor session, following the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States flag. In a letter last week, Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris urged that the House members do the same – and House Speaker Beth Harwell thinks they will.
“Concern arising from the recent introduction of a new state ‘logo’ is the reason I’m writing you today,” says Norris, R-Collierville, in the letter to Harwell, dated May 26. “You and I understand that Gov. Haslam has no intention of attempting to replace the Flag of Tennessee, but most Tennesseans do not.”
The Salute, initially approved by a legislative resolution in 1981, was incorporated into state law in 2006.
In his letter, Norris notes that the Senate adopted a rule two years ago, on his motion, providing that senators recite the Salute at the outset of each day in floor session.
“It affirms our support for ‘the three white stars on a field of blue’ which so many fear are now under siege,” wrote Norris.
“It seems to me that we can demonstrate a unified front in supporting our Flag if the House of Representatives joins us; that is, if both the House and Senate recite the Salute following the Pledge of Allegiance, there can be no doubt of the entire General Assembly’s support,” he wrote. “I hope you agree that joining in the Salute is the right thing to do.”
Harwell had not formally responded to Norris’ letter on Friday, but in response to a reporter’s inquiry she sent this email through a spokeswoman:
“This idea originated with Senator Doug Henry, and the House is certainly proud of our heritage and state flag. I think this idea will be met with a positive response by House members.”
Henry, a Nashville Democrat who retired last year as the state’s longest-serving legislator, has long been active in Tennessee history matters and an advocate of the Salute. It was written, according to the text of the state law, by “Lucy Steele Harrison, State Regent of The Tennessee Society, Daughters of the American Revolution from 1980-1983.”
“Three white stars on a field of blue
God keep them strong and ever true.
It is with pride and love that we
Salute the Flag of Tennessee.”