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One Huge Step for Man
by Dr. H. Paul Shuch, Executive Director


James Cadle was, frankly, offended. It was July of 1969, and in the Sea of Tranquility, men from the planet Earth had first set foot upon the Moon. Then, they planted the US flag. The Illinois artist considered himself a loyal American. Still, he was disturbed by this blatant show of nationalism. True, it was nationalism that motivated the Space Race, but with the race now won, wasn't it time to put all that behind us?

Putting palette before patriotism, Cadle created the Flag of Earth, a banner which he hoped would grace future space missions. Its yellow, blue and white circles, on a field black as space, starkly represented the Sun, Earth and Moon. His dream was to further the sentiment expressed on the plaque left behind by Apollo Eleven: Here Men from the Planet Earth First Set Foot Upon the Moon.

The Flag never successfully penetrated the NASA bureaucracy, but it began to permeate public consciousness. Copyrighted in 1970 and distributed through Cadle's newly-formed company Flag of Earth International, it came to symbolize for me the global nature of SETI science. Today, the Flag of Earth flies from every major SETI facility in the world, including The SETI League's moonbounce beacon, the Very Small Array, and many of our Project Argus stations.

Although he copyrighted and commercialized his Flag, Cadle never envisioned it as a path to profits. He has always offered it at reasonable cost, never charged shipping or handling fees, and consistently maintained its quality by personally supervising the production of each and every Flag of Earth.

Today, November 1, 2003, James Cadle has transferred the Flag of Earth copyright into the public domain. Soon, you may begin to see it appearing on bumper stickers, t-shirts, and coffee mugs sold at souvenir stands around the planet. Nothing could please the artist more than to see his symbol universally adopted.

Still, we in The SETI League will continue to purchase our flags from Flag of Earth International <>, and we encourage our members to do the same. It's the least we can do for James Cadle, who gave us our global banner, and has now given us his copyright.

That's one huge step for man.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in editorials are those of the individual authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of The SETI League, Inc., its Trustees, officers, Advisory Board, members, donors, or commercial sponsors.

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