Sister city affiliations between the United States and other nations began shortly after World War II, and developed into a national initiative when President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed the "people-to-people" program at a White House conference in 1956. President Eisenhower's intention was to involve individuals and organized groups at all levels of society in citizen diplomacy, with the hope that personal relationships, fostered through Sister City, county and state affiliations, would lesson the chance for future world conflicts.
Sister City relationships are officially recognized through Sister City agreements signed by the respective mayor or responsible governmental official of each city and ratified by each city council or it's equivalent. Stockton's participation in Sister Cities International began in 1959, when Mayor Dean DeCarli and a delegation of Stocktonians traveled to Shimizu, Japan, to sign a Sister City Agreement.
Many exchanges of artists, athletic teams, choral groups, city officials, medical personnel, teachers, students and involved citizens have contributed much to the understanding of each others' culture and establishment of lasting personal friendships. The program is operated by the Sister City Association of Stockton, an independent non-profit corporation, with an 18-member Board of Directors, and continuing support from the Mayor and City Council.
The flags located here represent the countries in which Stockton has established Sister Cities around the world.