The national flag of Argentina is a triband, composed of three equally wide horizontal bands coloured light blue, white and light blue. There are multiple interpretations on the reasons for those colors. The flag was created by Manuel Belgrano, in line with the recent creation of the Cockade of Argentina, and was first raised at the city of Rosario on February 27th, 1812, during the Argentine War of Independence. The National Flag Memorial was later built on the site. The First Triumvirate did not approve the use of the flag, but the Asamblea del Año XIII allowed the use of the flag as a war flag. It was the Congress of Tucumán which finally designated it as the national flag, in 1816. In 1818, a yellow Sun of May was added to the center.
The full flag featuring the sun is called the Official Ceremonial Flag (Spanish: Bandera Oficial de Ceremonia). The flag without the sun is considered the Ornamental Flag (Bandera de Ornato).
While both versions are equally considered the national flag, the
ornamental version must always be hoisted below the Official Ceremony
Flag. In vexillological terms, the Official Ceremonial Flag is the civil, state and war flag and ensign, while the Ornamental Flag is an alternative civil flag and ensign.
The flag of Argentina was created by Manuel Belgrano during the Argentine War of Independence. While in Rosario he noticed that both the royalist and patriotic forces were using the same colors, Spain's yellow and red. After realizing this, Manuel Belgrano created the Cockade of Argentina, which was approved by the First Triumvirate
on February 18th, 1812. Encouraged by this success, he created a flag of
the same colours nine days later. It used the colors that were used by
the Criollos during the May Revolution in 1810. However, recent research and studies would indicate that the colors were chosen from the coat of arms of the House of Bourbon
the royal family of Spain, and that during the May Revolution the color
used by the criollos was a red piece of cloth, as pointed by the
popular historian Felipe Pigna.
Most portraits about the creation or first uses of the flag show the
modern design of it, but the original one (kept at a museum in Sucre, Bolivia) was instead a vertical triband with two white bands and a light blue one in the middle. The flag was first flown, for the soldiers to swear allegiance to it, on 27 February 1812, on the Batería Libertad (Liberty Battery), by the Paraná River.
Belgrano dispatched a letter addressed to the First Triumvirate,
informing them of the newly created flag. However, unlike with the
cockade, the Triumvirate did not accept the use of the flag: the international policy by the time was to state that the government was ruling on behalf of Ferdinand VII king of Spain captive of Napoleón, whereas the creation of a flag was a clear independentist
act. Thus, the triumvirate sent a warning to Belgrano not to fight
under the flag, but by the time the reply had arrived, Belgrano had
moved to the north, following the previous orders that requested him to
strengthen the patriotic position in the Upper Peru after the defeat of Juan José Castelli at the Battle of Huaqui. Meanwhile, the flag was hoisted for the first time in Buenos Aires atop the Saint Nicholas of Bari Church on August 23rd, 1812; where nowadays the Obelisk of Buenos Aires is located. Still not knowing about the Triumvirate's refusal, Belgrano raised the flag at San Salvador de Jujuy and had it blessed by the local church on the second anniversary of the May Revolution.
Belgrano accepted the orders from the Triumvirate by time they arrived
to Salta and ended using the flag. As soldiers had already made oaths to
the new flag, Belgrano said that he was saving it for the circumstance
of a great victory.
The First Triumvirate was later replaced by the Second Triumvirate, with a more liberal ideology, who called the Asamblea del Año XIII.
Despite being one of the original goals, it did not declare
independency, and so neither approve the use of a national flag;
nevertheless, the flag made by Belgrano was authorized to be used as a War flag. The first oath to the newly approved flag was on February 13th, 1813, next to the Salado River, which as also known since then as "Río Juramento" ("Oath River"). The first battle fought with the approved flag was the Battle of Salta, a decisive patriotic victory that achieved the complete defeat of royalist Pío Tristán.
The flag would be finally declared the National flag by the Congress of Tucumán on July 20th, 1816, shortly after the declaration of independence. The proposal was made by the deputy Juan José Paso and the text written by the deputy of Charcas, José Serrano. On February 25th, 1818, the Congress (now working at Buenos Aires) included the Sun of May in the War flag,
after the proposal of deputy Chorroarín. The sun was copied after the
one that the first Argentine coin featured in 1813. It was subsequently
decided to be part of the regular flag afterwards, and thus the sun no
longer represents war.
On June 8, 1938, president Roberto Ortiz sanctioned the national law Nº 12.361 declaring June 20 "Flag Day", a national holiday. The date was decided after the anniversary of Belgrano's death in 1820. In 1957 the National Flag Memorial
(a 10,000 m² monumental complex) was inaugurated in Rosario to
commemorate the creation of the flag, and the official Flag Day
ceremonies have been customarily conducted in its vicinity since then.
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