State Flags – Maryland

maryland-nylonThe 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.

Blue_crab-1024x729The 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!

State Flags – Massachusetts

MA flagThe 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 gFenway 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.

State Flags – Georgia

IMG_20150309_135339_649Georgia 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.


State Flags – Pennsylvania

The next state in this series is Pennsylvania, the very state out of which US Flag Store is based. Number two in the union, Pennsylvania became a state just days after Delaware did, on December 12, 1787.

PA FlagPennsylvania’s flag was officially adopted in 1907. The flag has a dark blue background with two harnessed draft horses holding the state’s coat of arms that hold the state seal. Inside it are a ship, a plow, 3 sheaves of wheat, with a bald eagle sitting on top of it. Below is a stalk of corn, an olive branch, and a draped red ribbon bearing the words, “Virtue, Liberty, and Independence.” The coat of arms was of the Penn family after which Pennsylvania was named. This symbol first appeared on the currency that was issued by the state in 1777 until two years later when it was taken and added to the state flag.

Pennsylvania is currently the sixth most populous state in the US with a 2013 population estimate of 12,773,801. While Harrisburg is the capital, Philadelphia is the most populous city in Pennsylvania with an estimate of 1,553,165 compared to Harrisburg with just 49,188.

Liberty NPS
NPS Photo

This state is rich in American history. The Liberty Bell is located at The Liberty Bell Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. One of the symbols of the United States, this bell has the eponymous crack. How did it get this crack? In 1752, when the bell first arrived in Philadelphia and was cracked during a test strike. Fun Fact: The Liberty Bell is composed of exactly 70% copper, 25% tin, and bits of lead, zinc, arsenic, gold, and silver, weighing at 2,080 pounds.

Visit Philadelphia Photo (G Widman)

Another historic site is Independence Hall, which is visited by millions each year and open every day of the year. Independence Hall is the birthplace of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and  America itself. Both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed in the Assembly Hall. Fun Fact: George Washington actually ran his two terms as President from Philadelphia.

Did you know? The blue in the Pennsylvania state flag is the same shade of blue that is used in the US Flag!



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Flag of Colorado



In memory of the victims of last week’s violent shooting in Aurora, Colorado, stand united with our friends and neighbors in Colorado by flying the Colorado state flag.

The flag of the state of Colorado was adopted on June 5, 1911. The flag is rectangular with three horizontal stripes. The top and bottom stripes are blue and the middle stripe is white. Just to the left of the flag’s center point is a block letter red “C” that is filled with a gold circle.

Andrew Carlisle Johnson designed Colorado’s state flag during the year of the flag’s adoption. Previously, the flag of Colorado featured the state seal on a blue background. When the flag was originally adopted, the block letter C with the gold circle was smaller, and the entire graphic fit inside the white stripe. In 1964, the specifications for the flag were changed and the diameter of the gold disc is as large as the white center stripe.

The details of the Colorado state flag hold significance for the residents of this state. The blue stripes symbolize the big, clear blue skies of Colorado. The white stripe represents snow on the mountaintops of Colorado, some of which lasts all year round. The gold disc symbolizes the Colorado sunshine and the red C represents the color of some of Colorado’s soil.

Flag of Hawaii

The flag of Hawaii was adopted on December 29, 1945. The flag is somewhat of a combination of the British flag and the flag of the United States of America. The flag is rectangular and has eight horizontal stripes that alternate in red, white, and blue colors. The Union Flag of the United Kingdom appears in the upper left corner of the flag. The flag of Hawaii is unique in that it is the only state flag in the United States to feature the Union Flag in its design.

Although the flag’s design is simple, the horizontal stripes are symbolic to the state of Hawaii. Each of the eight stripes symbolize one of Hawaii’s major islands: Hawai’I, O’ahu, Kaua’I, Kaho’olawe, Lana’i, Maui, Moloka’I, and Ni’ihau. The order of the stripes is white, red, blue, white, red, blue, white red, and these colors were standardized in 1843. The Union Flag acknowledges the British Empire’s influence on the state.

Although the flag was not adopted until 1945, the flag’s origins date back to the early 1800s when Hawaii was ruled by King Kamehameha I. According to one story, the King flew a British flag—the Red Ensign with the Union emblem in the upper left corner and a red background—that was the British explorer George Vancouver gave him as a symbol of friendship with King George III. When Kamehameha’s advisor told him that the Union flag could bring Hawaii into foreign conflicts, he stopped displaying the flag, and in 1816, commissioned his own flag. The 1816 flag of Hawaii, most likely designed by one of the Hawaiian Navy commanders, evolved into the current Hawaiian flag. The flag’s design is based on the British East India Company’s flag, which features the Union flag in the upper left corner with red and white horizontal stripes.

State Flag of Iowa

The flag of Iowa was adopted on March 12, 1921. The flag is rectangular with three vertical stripes: the stripe on the left is blue, the stripe on the right is red, and the larger center stripe is white. A bald eagle appears in flight in the white stripe, holding a blue ribbon with the following white text: “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.” The word “IOWA” is also included towards the bottom of the white stripe in red capitol letters.

Although the state of Iowa was admitted to the Union on December 28, 1946, it was not until the United States entered World War I that Iowans felt the need for a state flag. It was expected that Iowans would fight in state regiments, as in previous wars, and Iowans finally desired a banner to designate their respective units. Fortunately, the Iowa Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution was interested in designing a state flag.

On May 11, 1917, members of the Society as well as Mrs. Dixie Gephardt, the flag’s designer, presented the flag before the State Council on National Defense. The Council approved the flag, after which the Daughters of the American Revolution manufactured and presented Iowa flags to each of the Iowa National Guard regiments. Unfortunately, shortly after the flag was approved, the U.S. War Department adopted a policy assigning soldiers to military regiments without regard to state residency, and the Iowa flags were not used during the war. Still the Iowa flag was used by the State National Guard and is still used today.

State Flag of Montana

The flag of the state of Montana was originally adopted in 1905. The flag is rectangular with a blue background. The seal of Montana, which was adopted in 1865, is centered on the flag. The seal depicts the beautiful landscape of Montana, complete with mountains, plains, forests, the Great Falls, the Missouri River, and a big sky. The seal also contains important symbols of Montana’s farming and mining industry: a plow, a pick, and a shovel. The state’s territorial motto, Oro y Plata, is written on a banner at the bottom of the seal, which means “Gold and Silver” in Spanish. The text “MONTANA” appears across the top of the flag in gold letters.

The flag of the State of Montana was created in 1898, when the First Montana Infantry volunteers were training for the Spanish American War at Fort Harrison. Although the men had planned to carry a 45-star United States flag into battle, Colonel Kessler, the head of the First Montana Infantry, thought the troops needed a special flag to represent their state. The flag the men carried looked like the current Montana state flag, but instead of the word “MONTANA” across the top, the text “1st Montana Infantry U.S.V.” was stitched above the seal.

After the Spanish American war, Colonel Kessler gave the flag to the Governor, who displayed the banner throughout the state. The residents of Montana began to consider the banner an appropriate representation of their state, and in 1905, the Montana State Legislature officially adopted the first state flag of Montana: a blue banner with the Montana state seal in the center. The text “MONTANA” was added to the flag in 1981.


Flag of Oklahoma

The state flag of Oklahoma was adopted on April 2, 1925. The flag is rectangular with a blue background. In the center of the flag is buffalo-skin shield traditional to the Native American Osage tribe. The shield contains six brown crosses and seven eagle fathers. A Native American peace pipe and an olive branch appear in front of the shield. The text “OKLAHOMA” appears below the shield in white letters.

The flag of Oklahoma is unique to the state and the elements of the flag are significant. The buffalo-skin shield represents the Osage tribe, a group of Native Americans that originated in the Ohio River valley, but moved west to Oklahoma during the mid-1600s. Throughout the 1700s, the Osage tribe was the dominant Native American tribe in the area of the United States that is now Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Today, the Osage tribe mainly resides in Osage County, Oklahoma.

Six brown crosses—the Native American symbol for stars—appear on the shield and represent high ideals. The Native American peace pipe, or calumet, and the olive branch represent both the Native American and European symbols for peace. The blue background of the flag commemorates the Choctaw, the first Native American Nation to wave an official flag. The Choctaw Nation also served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. The text “OKLAHOMA,” that appears in white letters below the shield was added to the flag in 1941.

The current flag of Oklahoma is quite different from the state’s original banner, which was adopted in 1911, four years after Oklahoma became an official state in the Union. The original flag was rectangular with a red background. A white, five-pointed star with a blue border appeared in the center of the flag. The number “46” appeared in blue in the center of the star, representing Oklahoma’s entry into the Union as the 46th state.