In Memoriam: Whitney Smith

“People die for flags and kill for them,” said The Economist in its December 10, 2016 obituary. “But until Whitney Smith, nobody studied them properly. He coined (aged 17) the name for the discipline, from vexillum, Latin for a military standard, and it consumed, fired and shaped his life. Flags, he wrote in one of his 27 vexillological books, ‘are employed to honour and dishonour, warn and encourage, threaten and promise, exalt and condemn, commemorate and deny’. They ‘remind and incite and defy . . . the child in school, the soldier, the voter, the enemy, the ally and the stranger’.” Dr. Smith’s official obituary appeared in The Flag Bulletin No. 234, available as an open-access download below.