April 10, 2015
The seventh state to enter the union is Maryland on April 28, 1788 when it ratified the federal constitution. The state was named after the queen consort Henrietta Maria, who was married to King Charles I of Britain. It is the 42nd biggest state in the nation but is the 19th most populous state.
The state flag of Maryland is a rather colorful one. This flag is the only state flag based on the British coats of arms. The flag’s design was inspired by the coat of arms adopted by George Calvert (1579-1632), who was the first Lord of Baltimore. The alternating gold and black squares and rectangles come from Calvert’s family shield while the red and white crosses are inspired by Calvert’s maternal family the Crosslands. This flag was first flown on October 11, 1880 in Baltimore at a parade marking the 150th anniversary of its founding. It was also flown at other historical events but the flag was not officially adopted until 1904.
The state is a largely coastal state. Chesapeake Bay is the largest body of water in the state of Maryland. There are also nearly 50 rivers, lakes, ponds, streams, and creeks in addition to the Atlantic Ocean. Maryland is largely known for the crab due to it being the state crustacean (actually, the Maryland Blue Crab), one of three states who has a state crustacean. The blue crab is a treat for seafood lovers who live in and visit the state.
State Bird: Maryland’s State Bird is the Baltimore Oriole, which is the same name as its Major League Baseball Team.
Food: Try a crab cake once you’re in Maryland!
March 30, 2015
The sixth state to enter the union was Massachusetts. While Massachusetts has been a state since February 6, 1788, its state flag was not adopted until 1971. Before then, the flag had a design on it that was on both sides of the flag, which was later omitted. The current design features a Native American holding a long bow against a blue shield. The white star inside the shield represents the state of Massachusetts. The state motto is written on a blue ribbon in a yellow color that reads in Latin, Ense Petit Placidam Sub Libertate Quietem which means “By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty.” And on top of the blue shield and the Native American is an arm wielding a sword.
Several U.S. Presidents were born in this state. John Adams (2nd President, from 1797 to 1801) and John Quincy Adams (6th US President, from 1825 to 1829) were both born in what was then known as Braintree but has since been renamed Quincy. Following the Adams’ is John Fitzgerald Kennedy (aka JFK), born in Brookline in 1911. He served as the 35th President from 1961 to 1963. Lastly is George Herbert Walker Bush, the father of Former President George Walker Bush (2001 to 2009), the 41st U.S. President from 1989 to 1993.
This state is also home to Plymouth Rock, a significant place in American History. This was where the Mayflower pilgrims landed in 1620. Located in Plymouth, Massachusetts, this little rock is inside Pilgrim Memorial State Park where over a million people, tourists and locals alike, come to visit each year. Entry into this park is free to the public.
Folklore: Johnny Appleseed is the state folk hero and was recognized officially by the state in 1996. His real name was John Chapman, and he planted apple trees from New England all the way to the Ohio River.
Sports: Fenway Park is where you can go and catch a baseball g ame. It is the home of the Boston Red Sox. Fans also come to this stadium to enjoy one of their famous hot dogs called the Fenway Frank.
March 27, 2015
Just one week after Georgia was admitted into the Union, Connecticut became the fifth state to enter on January 9, 1788. Their state flag was adopted in 1897. On their state flag is a shield depicting three grapevines. These grapevines represent early English settlers in the state. Underneath the shield is a ribbon, written in Latin Qui Transtulit Sustinet, or He Who Transplanted Still Sustains, in English. This phrase is the state motto.
Unlike many of the previous states, Connecticut is not named after a person. This state is actually named after the Connecticut River, which that was named Quinnehtukqut by the Mohegans in the Algonquian language. This river was used by the Native Americans for many years who lived in the area.
The state’s capital is Hartford. A few historical events in Hartford include the first FM station to broadcast and The Boys and Girls Club which was founded in 1860. The city is only 18 square miles and houses 125,000 residents. Connecticut ranks the 48th largest state with just 5,544 square miles and 8 counties.
Presidential History: 43rd US President George W. Bush (2001-2009) was born in New Haven on July 6, 1946.
- This state also has a Thames River, but not to be confused with the one in England!
- One of the major industries in Connecticut is actually insurance with many insurance companies being founded. Because of this, Connecticut is known as the Insurance Capital of the World!
March 20, 2015
Georgia is the fourth state into the union. It became a state on January 2, 1788, right after the new year. Georgia is known as the Peach State due to a large amount of peaches that grow there (peaches became the official state fruit in 1995).
In my research, I learned that Georgia originally had a different state flag. Several versions, to be exact, but the most well-known version is the 1956-2001 flag.
The first flag consisted of the Confederate flag along with a blue background with the Great Seal of the State of Georgia. However, after flying for 45 years, the Georgia state flag was changed. The Confederate flag on the first state flag was controversial, reminding the people of Georgia of their darker days in history. The request to change the flag dates as far back as the 1980s. The request was to return to the pre-1956 design which was much like the then-current flag but with three stripes: two red, and one white.
The bill for a new flag was finally passed in January 2001. The new flag that would be flown over Georgia was designed by Cecil Alexander, an Atlanta based architect. The new flag consisted of a blue background along with the seal of the State of Georgia in a gold color. Around the seal are 13 white stars to represent the original 13 colonies. Underneath is a gold ribbon labeled “Georgia’s History” with five flags. The first flag is the original stars and stripes with just thirteen stars, next is one of the coat of arms designs. Then comes the 1920s flag, followed by the 1956-2001 flag, and a 2001-2003 version. Last but not least is the current flag of Georgia.
This 2001 incarnation of the state flag flew for just two years until 2003. While some were pleased with the new design, others were still not satisfied. Some felt it was an insult to their history and heritage. Finally, in May 2003, Governor Sonny Perdue signed House Bill No. 380 into law. The 2003 flag is reminiscent of the flag from the 1920s but the lower red stripe is longer and the blue is a little cut back as a result. This flag has finally won the favor of the people of Georgia.
Travel: Although Georgia is a coastal state, there are two islands to which you can actually drive: Tybee Island and Jekyll Island.
In addition to peaches, peanuts are also grown in this state.
February 16, 2015
President’s Day celebrates the presidents of the United States of America. This holiday is observed on the third Monday in February despite Abraham Lincoln’s birthday being on February 12th while George Washington’s is just ten days later, on February 22nd. Fun Fact: Not just Washington and Lincoln were born in February. William Henry Harrison and Ronald Reagan are also two other presidential February birthdays.
When George Washington was alive in the 1700s, his birthday was celebrated by much of the US, therefore observing it as a holiday. President’s Day was established in 1885 for George Washington since as he was the first President. In 1968 the first attempt to make this a national holiday failed but the second attempt (1971) was successful. Thanks to this, federal offices, schools, and even the post office will be closed to observe Washington’s Birthday, called the Uniform Monday Holiday Act to give workers a three-day weekend.
However, it’s not just Washington who gets all the attention. Some states celebrate Washington, others celebrate Washington and another person, while others celebrate both Washington and Lincoln, like my home state of California.
For President’s Day, you can raise Old Glory in honor of the presidents. It is a great way to show your patriotism and respect for these pioneers in American history. Of course, you can always raise the flag for any president, veteran, or service member you would like to celebrate.
Did you know? In the 1980s, retail stores began to use President’s Day as a marketing opportunity. Since people start to get income tax checks this time of year and many businesses are closed for the holiday, it gave consumers the benefit of time and availability to hit the sales, and the retailers a boost to their after-Christmas slumps.
February 3, 2015
New Jersey places third into the union and as one of the original thirteen colonies. New Jersey is dubbed “The Garden State” and officially became a state on December 18, 1787.
The flag of New Jersey has a light yellow-brown background with part of the state seal in the center. The state seal features three plows inside a blue shield in between two women. The woman on the left is the Goddess of Liberty, who is holding a staff and the cap of freedom; on the opposite side is the Goddess of Agriculture, who holds the cornucopia full of food. Above the shield and the two woman is the head armor of a knight, a horse’s head, and blue filigrees. On the bottom is a ribbon which bears “”LIBERTY AND PROSPERITY” and “1776” (Random Fact: This state flag was adopted on March 26, 1896, a little less than 109 years after admission into the union).
New Jersey was given to James the Duke of York from his the brother, King Charles II of England. James later gave it to Sir George Carteret and Lord John Berkeley. James named New Jersey in honor of Carteret who was born in and was the former governor of Jersey, which is a British island in the English Channel.
The Battle of Trenton was a small but important battle in the American Revolution, taking place in Trenton, NJ. In 1776, the day after Christmas and General George Washington’s Crossing of the Delaware, he led his Continental Army against Hessian soldiers. Very soon all the Hessians were captured with very little damage to our Army. This battle’s significance was its much-needed boost to the Continental Army’s morale. Reenactors come to Trenton each year to relive this victory.
Today New Jersey boasts several bald eagle nests with action cams to protect this endangered species. Volunteers observe and collect helpful data, clocking in lots of hours noting courtship, mating, feeding, and other rituals.
Another fact: New Jersey is the 47th largest state in the United States with only 8,722 square miles.
Want more fun facts about New Jersey? Check out this website.