The Legislature finds it is appropriate to include within this chapter general history and related information concerning the state flag. The state did not have a flag from 1819 to January 11, 1861, when a resolution was passed designating a flag designed by a group of Montgomery women as the "Republic of Alabama Flag." One side of this flag displayed, under an arch bearing the words "Independent Now and Forever," the Goddess of Liberty holding in her right hand an unsheathed sword and in her left hand a small flag with one star. Displayed on the reverse side of this flag were a large cotton plant in full fruit and flower, a coiled rattlesnake, and the Latin words "Noli Me Tangere" (Touch Me Not) beneath the cotton plant. This flag, which flew for about a month, was removed to the Governor's office on February 10, 1861, apparently suffering damage caused by severe weather. The Republic of Alabama Flag was never flown again.
From April 1865 until 1895, the State of Alabama flew the United States Flag during all official occasions.
The Alabama State Flag as it exists today was adopted on February 16, 1895, pursuant to Act No. 383 of the 1895 Legislature of Alabama (Acts 1894-1895, p. 719), which is codified as Section 1-2-5. Section 1-2-5 provides:
"The flag of the state of Alabama shall be a crimson cross of St. Andrew on a field of white. The bars forming the cross shall be not less than six inches broad, and must extend diagonally across the flag from side to side."
The St. Andrew's Cross resembles the letter "X" in the English alphabet and is also referred to as the "saltier" or "Crux Decussata." According to tradition, Andrew, the brother of Peter, was crucified on a cross of this shape. Andrew did not feel worthy enough to die on the same style of cross on which Christ died and requested a cross of another shape. His request was granted and he was crucified upside down on a cross which now bears his name. Rather than using nails to secure his limbs to the cross, Andrew was bound to the cross with ropes. His suffering was thus prolonged. St. Andrew's Cross came into wide use during the Medieval Period and became the national cross of Scotland, since St. Andrew was the patron saint of Scotland.
Currently, Alabama law requires the display of the Alabama State Flag at all schools supported by public funds when school is in session. The State Superintendent of Education has determined that the Alabama State Flag must be hoisted on a pole to be appropriately displayed at school buildings.
The salute to the Alabama State Flag provides:
"Flag of Alabama I salute thee. To thee I pledge my allegiance, my service, and my life."