Flag of the United States Virgin Islands

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United States Virgin Islands
Flag of the United States Virgin Islands.svg
AdoptedMay 17, 1921; 98 years ago (1921-05-17)
DesignA simplified version of the coat of arms of the United States between the letters V and I (for Virgin Islands). The yellow-colored eagle holds a sprig of laurel in one talon, and three arrows in the other. The blue color in the shield on the eagle's breast is the same color as that of the flag and shield of the United States.

The flag of the United States Virgin Islands was adopted on May 17, 1921. It consists of a simplified version of the coat of arms of the United States between the letters V and I (for Virgin Islands). The yellow-colored eagle holds a sprig of laurel in one talon which symbolizes peace, and three arrows in the other which represent the three major islands that make up the U.S. Virgin Islands which are Saint Croix, Saint Thomas, and Saint John.[1] The blue color in the shield on the eagle's breast is the same color as that of the flag and shield of the United States. The color blue represents the sky and the ocean, white represents purity, and lastly, the green and gold colors symbolize the islands' wealth and hills. [2] When the Virgin Islands were owned by Denmark, they implemented their flag in it which was a sign of ownership and a symbol of their ancestors along with their power. The Danish flag was known as “Dannebrog” which translates to the “the cloth of the Danes”. The history of the Danish flag comes from a battle that the Danish king Valdemar II fought in and defeated Estonia on June 15, 1219. It is said that the flag descended from the sky after the war and it gave a meaningful definition to the flag itself and that is the reason why it was chosen to represent the Virgin Islands. [3] The colors of the flag have different meanings so as for the white cross, it is a representation of Christianity as it is used among countries like Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Norway.[4] Christianity in these countries is a part of the life, and it must be very important if the cross was part of the flag because the flag itself represent the country as a whole. The white of the cross represents honesty and peace while the red represents strength, hardiness, and bravery.[5]


Colonial flag used in the Danish West Indies up until 1917.

Prior to Transfer Day 1917, the Danish colonial administration used a simple flag modeled on the blue ensign with the flag of Denmark in its canton.

The idea of a U.S. Virgin Islands flag began with the administration of Rear Admiral Summer Ely Whitmore Kitelle, who was sworn in as governor of the islands on April 26, 1921. He approached Mr. White, captain of the Grib, and Percival Wilson Sparks, a cartoonist, and asked them for suggestions for a flag design. Sparks, immediately drew a design on paper. Afterwards Sparks transferred it on heavy cotton material, then asked his wife Grace and her sister Blanche Joseph to embroider the design.[6] The later result was what became the famous United States Virgin Islands' flag.

Transfer Day[edit]

Transfer Day is known to be a famous and well known holiday celebrated in the 133-square-mile Caribbean Island that was once a Danish territory. After The Virgin Islands were bought by the United States, transfer day was celebrated by all Americans living in the islands and it still is celebrated by the many Americans who are currently citizens. The holiday is known to be one of the most celebrated ones throughout the whole year as it is a time of remembrance, especially for the American government and its people. Transfer day was seen as a peaceful celebration since both U.S. and Danish governors, official parties, and soldiers arrived at the island dressed in military uniforms marching through the streets of Charlotte Amalie, which is the current capital of the islands. The flag interchange service became an unforgettable memory in the transfer day service because the flags had to be switched from the poles. The Danish flag was taken down and replaced with the United States Virgin Islands' flag.[7]

Virgin Islands history and culture[edit]

Before the Virgin Islands became a U.S territory, they were owned by the French first then they were eventually bought by the Danish in 1733 ruling about 200 years. St. Thomas was the first Island that became colonized by the Danish in 1672, eventually they explored and colonized Saint John in 1694 which led to the purchase of the three islands all together years later. Moreover, the Revised Organic Act of 1954, allowed all Virgin Island citizens to gain access to United States Citizenship. On the other hand, it also allowed the islands to have their goods be sold-duty free which means that tourists are able to carry back with them six bottles of alcohol as long as one is distilled in Saint Croix. Rum is an important good produced in the islands, having tourists excited for it. Overall the Virgin Islands are known for their famous Cruzan Rum and Captain Morgan which are distilled in the islands. [8]Furthermore, the history of the U.S. Virgin Islands also tells a story of some of the interesting facts that happened during the ruling of Denmark; for example, Saint Croix became a popular slavery market in the Caribbean with a major production on sugarcane; however, slavery was abolished in 1948 but the United States’ interest in purchasing the island became a big deal in the 1860's which was way before the abolishment. The Danish, who were in control of the Virgin Islands, used their slaves who were shipped from Africa, in order to do farm and field labor for the production of sugar, cotton, and tobacco. The slaves were sent to work all over the Caribbean producing major exporting goods to the Europeans who benefited from all the crops being exported from the Virgin Islands as well as other islands around. [9] The United States bought the Virgin Islands from Denmark in 1917 for $25 million, which eventually meant changing the flag to represent the United States. The same way the flag changed, the language and culture changed as well, although a lot of the ancestors currently living on the islands are Danish and African because of slavery.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Harris Evans, Luther. "Virgin Islands".
  2. ^ "The U.S. Virgin Islands Flag". gov.vi. The Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Archived from the original on January 28, 1998.
  3. ^ "Denmark Flags".
  4. ^ "Denmark Flags".
  5. ^ "Denmark Flags".
  6. ^ "US Virgin Islands Flags".
  7. ^ Hillinger, Charles (March 29, 1987). "Virgin Islands' Special Celebration".
  8. ^ "Transfer Day in the Virgin Islands: Seven Flags Over St Croix".
  9. ^ Woolf, Christopher (September 13, 2017). "How a violent history created the US Virgin Islands as we know them".

Further reading[edit]

  • The Umbilical Cord: The History of the United States Virgin Islands from Pre-Columbian Era to the Present (1995), by Harold W.L. Willocks

External links[edit]