July 1, 2016
Kansas joined the Union as the 34th state on January 29, 1861. The Civil War had started the year the state entered the Union and while they were a new state, they were the state who had suffered the most casualties from the war compared to any other state.
Kansas’ state flag was adopted on May 21, 1927. It had been flown at Fort Riley for the first time to honor the troops and the Kansas National Guard. The flag is a navy blue and has the state seal emblazoned in the middle. This seal depicts the rising sun in the East while life, of covered wagons, livestock, and farming, go on in the left hand corner and below. In the sky are 34 stars, each symbolizing a state at the time the seal was created during Kansas’ entry into the Union. Above the stars is a gold ribbon, reading Ad Astra Per Aspera, the state’s motto, meaning “to the stars through difficulties”. Underneath the state seal is the word “Kansas” in yellow and atop the seal is a sunflower sitting on a twisted blue and gold bar. This bar is said to symbolize the Louisiana Purchase in which the land Kansas was in was also acquired from. The sunflower is also Kansas’ state flower.
Sunflower State/Wild Sunflower: As one can see on the state flag, the state’s official flower is the sunflower. They were growing before the land even became a state, and explorers marveled at the beauty of the golden petals. Early on, their stalks were burned for fuel and the seeds had been fed to birds. It was sadly thought of as a “noxious weed” by people who disliked the flower but was still loved by many residents of Kansas. The flower grows native to the state’s soil and many life forms, like bees and butterflies, thrive on sunflowers. Their seeds also make a very tasty snack!
Along with Sunflowers, wheat is a very big commodity in the state. Large amounts of wheat grow (enough to provide everyone in the world with at least six loaves of bread!) but the wheat harvest is very short! From early June to the first part of July, according to the Kansas Wheat Commission.
Kansas is also known for the well-known film Wizard of Oz (1939) in which the first part of the film takes place in Kansas. In Liberal, Kansas, there is a replica of Dorothy’s house known as Dorothy’s House and Land of Oz!
May 25, 2016
Oregon is well known for the Oregon Trail which occurred in the 1840s and was about 2,200 miles long. It was a journey from Missouri to Oregon and other points west such as California (due to the gold rush going on at the time), and the settlers took the journey due to tough economic times. They traveled by covered wagon (first use of them was in 1836). The journey was successful, and more people came to Oregon in hopes of better land and promising futures. By 1846, the British handed power of Oregon over to the United States. Oregon obtained statehood on February 14, 1859.
Oregon’s state flag was adopted in 1925 and is the only state flag with different images on reverse sides of the flag. The flag is navy blue along with a gold shield on one side and a gold beaver sitting on a log on the other. On the side with the shield reads “State of Oregon” in large letters above the shield with 33 stars surrounding the shield. Inside the shield is a sunset over an ocean (Pacific), forests, mountains, and a covered wagon. On the sea are two ships, a British Man-of-War and an American trade ship. The British ship is departing and the American ship is arriving, symbolizing the claim of land by the UK and the USA at the same time and also America’s rising power in the West. Sitting atop of the shield is a bald eagle and underneath are the numbers “1859”, the year Oregon was admitted to the union as the 33rd state.
State Nickname: Because of the beaver on the opposite side of the flag, Oregon’s nickname is, of course, the Beaver State. Fur traders were just some of the key people in the Oregon trail and fur from beavers was a good source of fur for them. The beaver eventually became the state’s unofficial animal and is a mascot of Oregon State University.
Just Like Oregon: Paraguay’s national flag also has different images on reverse sides.
May 9, 2016
(c) Getty Images
It’s time for the Invictus Games! Brits are gearing up to cheer for their fellow countrymen in a Paralympic-like competition against a select few countries. If you have never heard of them, don’t worry because it’s still something relatively new. It was just started in 2014 but Prince Harry originally came up with the idea in 2013 when he was out on a trip to the US to attend the Warrior Games. He saw how sport was therapeutic for many servicemen, and helped them open up to people again after seeing the horrors of war.
Prince Harry came up with the idea of the Invictus Games. The games would be for active duty and veteran Service men and women who were injured, ill, or wounded. Now, why was the word “invictus” chosen for the name of the games? It is because it means “unconquered”, and it represents the spirit of the service men and women. They are moving on through sport despite injury and illness. These games show how courageous and inspiring these men and women are.
The first Invictus Games were held in London, England, UK. The second edition (2016) of the Invictus Games will be held in Orlando, Florida in the United States and then in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 2017, and then other international cities after 2017. Much like the Olympics, the games are held in different cities across different countries. There is an Opening and Closing Ceremony and the games take place in the course of just a few days.
In the past two years since the games were created, the Invictus Games have been given more attention, especially in the media and online. Prince Harry made a video with President Barack Obama and his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, poking fun at each other just before the games were to begin. Prince Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, was also featured in the video.
It is incredible to see the success of these games. Prince Harry is receiving lots of praise for his wonderful idea, especially since his mother, Princess Diana, had taught him to be kind and help others. He has the support of several current and former world leaders along with many in the military. Although only a handful of service people will compete, the support and encouragement is far greater.
May 2, 2016
Minnesota became the 32nd US State on May 11, 1858. Before then, the Eastern part of the state was owned by Great Britain and the West was owned by France. The United States gained the East from Britain after the Revolutionary War and the West was also included in the Louisiana Purchase from France.
Minnesota’s official state flag was adopted in 1893 but was not made the official state flag until 1957. Minnesota’s flag is royal blue with a gold fringe. Placed on the center of the flag is the state’s seal and encircled around it is a wreath featuring the state’s flower, the pink and white lady slippers along with a red ribbon. On that red ribbon are printed the years 1819 (the establishment of Fort Snelling, a significant historical landmark run by the Minnesota Historical Society), and 1893, the year in which the state’s flag had been unofficially adopted. In a separate gold ribbon inside the state’s seal reads the state’s motto, L’etoile du Nord, meaning Star of the North in French. There are five pointed star groups made up outside the circle to make a star, totalling to 19. While Minnesota is the 32nd state, they are the 19th post thirteen-territories state. Finally, the word Minnesota is written in red letters in the lower white circle.
St. Paul, Minnesota is the state capital and Minneapolis, Minnesota, is the state’s most populated city. However, due to the fact that they are just about next to each other, this area is otherwise known as the Twin Cities. The Twin Cities area is home to about sixty percent of Minnesotans.
Where did the name Minnesota come from? Minnesota’s name is derived from a Native American word meaning “clouded water” or “sky-tinted water”.
Home of 10,000 lakes: The state is known for having a vast amount of lakes and proudly has it written on their license plates. However, there are actually over 11,000 lakes! These lakes are enjoyed by both locals and tourists. Many go camping, swimming, fishing, and go on boat rides.
March 23, 2016
Wisconsin, the 30th state in the Union, was founded by Frenchman Jean Nicolet in 1634. Great Britain later obtained the territory from the French in the French and Indian Wars in 1763. They owned the land for twenty years until the United States gained ownership of it after the Revolutionary War but Britain regained the territory in the War of 1812. Wisconsin later gained its statehood on May 29, 1848.
Wisconsin’s state flag was adopted in 1913 but this flag had been flown even earlier. Civil war regiments were asking for an official banner to fly. On March 25, 1863, a flag was adopted for Wisconsin which was blue and bore the state’s coat of arms and this flag was eventually re-adopted in 1913. The state flew its flag with just its coat of arms until 1980, when many Wisconsin residents were unhappy with how they were unable to tell their state flag apart from other state flags (which were also had coats of arms). After that, the word “Wisconsin” in white letters were placed above the coat of arms and “1848” was added below the coat of arms.
Dairy and Cheese: Wisconsin is well known for its dairy, many coming for their amazing milk, cheese, and other dairy products. There are over 600 cheese varieties alone in the state of Wisconsin, and has a high amount of cheese consumption in the state.
Here’s some cheese trivia:
Limburger*: The cheese known for its pungent aroma that originated in Europe is produced only in Monroe, Wisconsin for the United States.
Colby Cheese: Like colby cheese? It was invented in Colby, Wisconsin!
Brick Cheese: Invented in Dodge County in 1877. It got its name due to the fact that cheesemakers used to use bricks to press moisture from the cheese.
In addition, 99 percent of farms in the state of Wisconsin are family owned.
March 10, 2016
(c) United States Flag Store, Online Stores LLC
Iowa was included in the Louisiana Purchase, came under US control in 1803, and became the 29th state on December 28, 1846. The state flag was not adopted until 1921 when it was designed by a Mrs. Dixie Gebhardt who was from the Daughters of the American Revolution of Iowa. The flag’s colors are red, white, and blue, and take on the same tricolor pattern as the French flag, paying homage to its French roots. The white center of the flag is larger and has a bald eagle holding a flowing ribbon in its beak. The ribbon reads, “Our Liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain.”
Iowa’s state capital is Des Moines which had been named after a military post called Fort Des Moines that had been established along the Des Moines river during the 1840s. The city was officially incorporated on September 22, 1851. The city has a population of over 204,000 (as of the 2010 Census) but a Metro population of nearly 570,000.
Iowa got its state name is from the word Ioway, the French version of the name Bah-kho-je, which was the name of the Indian tribe that lived in the area.
Well known Iowans-31st US President Herbert Hoover was born in West Branch, IA, on August 10, 1874.
Actor John Wayne (born as Marion Mitchell Morrison) was born in Winterset, IA on May 26, 1907.
January 28, 2016
Texas became the 28th state to enter the union on December 29, 1845. Texas was first founded by Spanish explorers, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, settling at Ysleta near El Paso in 1862. Robert Cavalier Sieur de la Salle later established a French colony at Matagorda Bay in 1685. In 1821, Stephen F. Austin led Americans to settle along the Brazos River when Texas was originally controlled by Mexico who gained their independence from Spain.
In 1835, the Texas Revolution began due to tensions between the settlers of Texas and Mexico. The first battle was the Battle of Gonzales in 1835, which was caused by a cannon. From 1836 to 1845, Texas was its own independent nation until it entered the union by treaty, the Treaties of Velasco (and the only state to do so).
Texas adopted their state flag before it became a state. The flag of Texas is known as the Lone Star flag, as it only has one star on their state flag and it was first used on their flag during the battles between Texas and Mexico in the 1830s. The star is located on a vertical blue stripe on the left hand side (taking up ⅓ of the flag) while a horizontal red and white stripe take up the remaining right side of the flag. Red symbolizes courage, white means liberty, and blue is for loyalty.
Texas Flag vs. Flag of Chile: The flags of Texas and the South American country of Chile are very similar and can sometimes be confused with one another. The only differences between the flags are that there is only a blue square on the left hand corner of the Chilean flag, the star inside the square is smaller, and the red horizontal stripe on the bottom is longer. Chile’s flag was adopted on October 18, 1817.
Texas is the second largest state in the US along with being the most populous.