The HGZD President Željko Heimer participated at the 28th International Congress of Vexillology HEMISFLAG: 28ICV held in San Antonio, Texas, USA from 14 to 20 July 2019. The majority of the Congress program was held in the oldest hotel in San Antonio, the Saint Anthony Hotel. It was organized by the Vexillological Association of teh State of Texas (VAST) and the Flag Research Center (FRC) sponsored by the International Federation of Vexillological Associations (Fédération internationale des associations vexillologiques, FIAV).
In the scientific part of the program, Heimer presented his paper on history of flags of the city of Rijeka from the oldest mentioned use of flags in Rijeka until the current time, particularly focusing on the last two centuries when it is known that the citizens used the city flag in various designs. The paper is going to be published in English under the title The Confluence of the River: Two Centuries of Flag Controversies in Rijeka/Fiume, referring to the Congress theme Flags at the Confluence of Civilizations.
Heimer also participated in the scientific part of the congress by chairing the discussion panel on methods to preserve published vexillological knowledge though digitization of periodicals and monographs and establishment of global repositories for publications issued by vexillological institutions. The panel was participated by established vexillologists Steven A. Knowlton, librarian for American history and African-American studies at the University of Princeton and Anne M. Platoff, librarian for military sciences, Slavic and geology at the University of California Santa Barbara.
The 26th Session of the FIAV General Assembly was held during the Congress. The FIAV is the roof global scientific-professional association of vexillological societies and institutions, today numbering 51 regional, national and multinational organizations of vexillologists from all continents except Antarctica, and which organizes these international congresses. Željko Heimer participated at the Assembly representing the HGZD as its president, but also a representative of three other societies which accredited him their delegate: the Bulgarian Heraldry and Vexillology Society (Българско хералдическо и вексилоложко общество, BHVS), the Macedonian Herladic Society (Македонско грбсловно друштво, MGD) and the Ukrainian Heraldic Society (Українсьҝе Геральдичне Товариство, UHT). The incumbent FIAV President Michel Lupant and the secretary-general Charles Spain, who held the office for 22 years in 11 mandates, chose not to run again.
Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Željko Heimer was elected by the Assembly a new FIAV Presdient, Bruce B. Berry of the Southern African Vexillological Association (SAVA) was elected secretary-general, while the secretary-general for congresses was re-elected Graham Bartram of the Flag Institute (FI) from the United Kingdom. The Assembly confirmed its decision to hold the next congress in Ljubljana 2021, and decided the subsequent location in Beijing 2023. The French vexillological institutions expressed their intent to organize congress in Paris 2025. Furthermore, the Assembly admitted new members from Chiel (Corporación Nacional de Vexilología de Chile, CONAVEX), PR China (中国旗帜学研究中心 Vexillological Research Center of China, VRCC) and Macedonia (MGD, instead of the previous MHZ which was reconstituted internally for procedural reasons).
The congressional excursion was organized visiting one of the most important US flag factories, the Dixie Flag in San Antonio, a visit to the parliamentary assembly the Texas State Capitol in Austin, where the newly elected FIAV President thanked in name of the Federation and the Congress for hospitality to the acting secretary of state Jose A. Esparza. The excursion ended visiting the scientific, research and archival institution the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas in Austin,which preserves the largest and the most important vexillological library of the FRC, inherited from the recently deceased “father of vexillology” Whitney Smith.
Meeting of individual FIAV member organizations were also held. Heimer participated at the meeting of the Internet based international association Flags of the World (FOTW), being its member since 1995, and together with its accredited representative B. Berry, chaired the meeting. As the FIAV President, he was guest at the meeting of the North American Vexillological Association – Association nord-américaine de vexillologie (NAVA), which he addressed in the name of the Federation.
During the closing ceremony the newly elected President took over the chair as the head of ceremony. In accordance with the established tradition, a toast was held for vexillologists deceased between two congresses, gratitude was given to the congress organizers and the Federation awards were presented: the Whitney Smith award for the best paper at the Congress went to the American vexillologist Hipólito Rafael Chacón for his paper Iconographia Jacobaea: The Reach of Santiago, Spain’s Patrol Saint, in Municipal Heraldry and Vexillology, the Vexillon award for the most important publication between two congresses went to the Japanese vexillologist Nozomi Kariyasu for his monograph 日本旗章史図鑑 Japanese Flags from Ancient Time to Today, the titles of Fellow of the Federation for contribution to vexillology or service to the Federation or it member organization were granted to the Congress organizers Vanessa R. Van de Putte, H. Peter Van de Putte and John M. Hartvigsen, as well as to Malcolm J. D. Farrow (FI), Martin Grieve (SAVA) and outgoing FIAV Board members Lupant and Spain. The most important award the Laureate of the Federation, granted for outstanding original contribution to vexillological studies for defended doctoral-degree thesis in vexillology, was awarded for the eight time ever, to Australian vexillologists Tracey Mee, for her thesis Australian National Identity: Somewhere Between the Flags? defended in 2018 at the University of Wollongong.
Finally, with the ceremonial handover of the FIAV flag by President Heimer to the representatives of the Slovenian Heraldic and Vexillological Society Heraldica Slovenica (Slovensko heraldičko-veksilološko društvo Heraldica Slovenica, HS), the Congress in San Antonio came to the end and the preparations for the next one in Ljubljana 2021 started.