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Commencement Facts

FlagsWhat do the flags on the Green during Commencement stand for?

The flags displayed on the Green during Commencement represent the member states of the United Nations, currently numbering 193. The first time they were displayed was 1958, the year West German president Theodor Heuss received an honorary degree from the College.

Some of the flags are taken out occasionally and used at other functions, but traditionally graduation is the only time all the flags are displayed. Exceptions include the September 2013 inauguration of Philip J. Hanlon '77 as the 18th President of Dartmouth and the 2009 inauguration of Jim Yong Kim. Inauguration Ceremonies were held on the Green and the flags were displayed, along with nine flags of Native American nations.

Displaying the flags is no small feat. Grounds staff carefully lay out where the flags should be placed and then drill a piece of rebar in the ground for each one. When the flags are taken down, the rebar is removed and the flags are covered, arranged in alphabetical order, bundled in groups of five, and stored in the Facilities Operations and Management Grounds building.